Cardinal of the Kremlin, however, is more about the shifting allegiances of the intelligence community and the unstable world of late 1980s U.S.-Soviet relations than it is about military technology. Colonel Mikhail Filitov is the Cardinal, the CIA's ear in the Kremlin and a steady source of the latest Soviet secrets. Passing microfilm through a chain of agents that begins in a Turkish bath, the Cardinal exposes a double agent in the American SDI program. Unfortunately, the KGB also knows that they have a mole in their midst. In tightly crafted narrative that rapidly cuts from the Kremlin to Afghanistan to Washington, D.C., the Americans rush to pull Filitov and his associates out before his cover is blown. Jack Ryan returns as the moral centre in a world often dominated by egos and politicking, and John Clark, ex-Navy SEAL and current CIA agent makes his first appearance in a Clancy novel (though his early life is chronicled in Without Remorse).
Clancy hits his stride in this outing, meshing a plot that earns the name "thriller" with bang-on depictions of SDI systems and a varied and interesting cast of characters. Moving beyond black-and-white depictions of the "evil empire", he delves into the altogether greyer world where political ideals meet reality. --Patrick O'Kelley
From the reviews of The Cardinal of the Kremlin:
‘The best of the Jack Ryan series!’
New York Times
‘The USSR scenes are as good as anything in Gorky Park. Tom Clancy has written a great spy novel.’
Bob Woodward, Washington Post