While most of Clancy's oeuvre celebrates high-tech gadgets and clear-cut battles of good versus evil, Without Remorse focuses more on the character, struggles and motivations of its hero. Kelly's status is always ambiguous, reflecting the uncertainties of the Vietnam era, and Clancy resists the temptation of making him into a puritan. From the start, he holds secrets from even his loved ones (he won't tell Pam the origin of his SEAL tattoo, for example). While he is a killer, he believes he has justification for each death, and the CIA is more interested in his deadly talents than his criminal record.
For Clancy fans, the insights into the early history of Clark, Greer and others build a sense of realism and depth into the Jack Ryan series. As Kelly becomes Clark, Clancy underscores the sombre sense of resignation and despair that underlies much of the book: "He was working for the Agency now, so Clark was his name. It made it easier somehow." Yet, in the darkness of this moment, one can't help but reflect on what Clark and his CIA will become. It's like watching Batman donning his cape for the very first time. --Patrick O'Kelley
From the reviews of Without Remorse:
‘The best in the business… he remains No 1.’
Los Angeles Times
‘Heart-stopping… the product of a master.’