As far as Balladeer’s Blog is concerned, the search for a successor to Robert Ludlum and Tom Clancy may be over. Author Will Jordan from Scotland isn’t even out of his thirties yet and, if you’ll recall, Ludlum didn’t pen his first novel until he was in his forties. If Jordan continues to master his craft – and if he stays in the espionage genre – he could well become one of the giants of spy fiction.
Will has worked as an extra in assorted movies & television shows, often in action or military stories. He went through boot camp and weapons training as part of that process. Jordan also reviews movies and television as the Critical Drinker, the most notorious “sustained role-playing” film critic since Mr Plinkett. Will’s hilarious but insightful reviews can be found at his YT channel HERE.
REDEMPTION (2012) – The novel that introduced Will Jordan’s character Ryan Drake, a former British soldier now working for the CIA. Drake leads the elite Shepherd Team, which tracks down missing agents whether they’ve disappeared willingly or unwillingly.
In this debut adventure our hero frees a woman codenamed Maras and returns her to the U.S. only to wind up going on the run with her as assorted hostile forces emerge to prevent what she knows from ever being revealed. Ryan and Maras must dodge friend and foe alike as they piece together the ongoing conspiracy.
SACRIFICE (2013) – This tale is set in 2008 Afghanistan. A senior CIA figure is in a Blackhawk helicopter shot down over the war-ravaged country and he falls into the hands of a splinter group of Afghani militants.
Drake leads his Shepherd Team in a rescue attempt only to wind up in the middle of a conflict between the splinter group and a high-priced and high-powered company of international mercenaries. Like Ilsa with Rick Blaine, a mysterious lady from Ryan Drake’s past shows up, but is she friend or foe?
BETRAYAL (2014) – Ryan Drake’s old female teammate Anya is the suspected leader of a hit team that whacked Russian Federal Security Force operatives on American soil, where they were attending an international “good will” cooperative venture.
With tension between the U.S. and Russia soaring in the wake of the incident, Drake and his team are called upon to take down Anya once and for all. The trail leads them to Siberia and a private Armageddon for our hero.
BLACK LIST (2015) – Drake and his Shepherd Team are pretty much supporting characters in this novel which switches the focus to Alex Yates, a notorious computer hacker. Yates is hired to hack into the CIA computer network and snare a file called the Black List. This act mobilizes intelligence agencies around the world against him and his enigmatic client because powerful people do not want the Black List’s secrets revealed.
I am fine with Ryan Drake and company being in the background this time around. Robert Ludlum’s fictional Consular Operations (Cons Op) were sometimes central to his novels but at other times were on the periphery.
DECEPTION GAME (2015) – Happily, Will Jordan and his publisher are comfortable with having more than one book come out per year, unlike the way Robert Ludlum’s publisher made him use pseudonyms when he had multiple novels come out in one calendar year.
At any rate, in this tale Ryan Drake assembles a team to kidnap a high-ranking Libyan intelligence man as part of an operation to try bringing down corrupt CIA Deputy Director Marcus Cain. To say more would expose too many spoilers.
GHOST TARGET (2016) – When his old foe Marcus Cain launches an attack on Ryan Drake which drags him out of semi-retirement/ hiding in Marseilles, our hero works out an uneasy alliance with Anya to foil Cain’s latest self-serving scheme.
The action takes them to Pakistan, where the vile Deputy Director of the CIA is playing a game which may wind up taking the war against Islamofascism to a level that benefits no one but Cain himself.
SECOND CHANCES (2016) – When Agent Olivia Mitchell defies CIA orders to kill a particular target the Agency tries to have her nabbed and returned to the U.S. to answer for her defiance.
Ryan Drake and his team beat the CIA to their target and proceed to use Olivia’s information and contacts to carry out a plan of Drake’s own, a plan which finds them all risking their lives and careers. A comparatively short work, Second Chances is openly labeled a novella.
SHADOW CONFLICT (2017) – This tale finds Ryan Drake helpless and suffering in the hands of his archenemy Marcus Cain, corrupt Deputy Director of the CIA. The imprisoned Drake has information that Cain wants regarding the renegade Anya.
Meanwhile, that enigmatic freelancer decides to try freeing Drake while maneuvering around Marcus as part of her own latest private game.
TRIAL BY FIRE (2018) – Ryan Drake and his team are sent to Ukraine to extract a CIA source who has been compromised. Along with their newest member, maverick Tech Specialist Keira Frost, Drake and company must venture into the dangerous radioactive wasteland of Pripyat near Chernobyl.
Call me crazy if you want, but I think this late entry to the Ryan Drake series would make an ideal debut movie for the character and his team. I find it reasonably unique while still containing all the elements that make Will Jordan’s stories so memorable. The more complex canon could be worked in beginning with a second movie.
DOWNFALL (2019) – Ryan Drake goes solo to track down an intelligence figure who pulls off a car-bombing and pins it on him because of some unknown grievance against Ryan.
The Shepherd Team go into action with their quarry this time being the last person they once would have suspected – their own boss Drake. His loyal colleagues try their best to save our hero and help him emerge victorious over his shadowy foe.
SOMETHING TO DIE FOR (2020) – The rollicking, riveting conclusion to the labyrinthine saga of Ryan Drake.
This novel has everything readers could want from a final installment: one last clash with the archvillain Marcus Cain, an appearance by the dangerous wild card Anya, Ryan’s own sister being dragged into the action to escalate the personal stakes and, best of all, Something To Die For STILL stands on its own, so even if you haven’t read the other Drake books you can still enjoy it.
FOR MY DETAILED REVIEWS OF ROBERT LUDLUM NOVELS CLICK HERE.
FOR MY DETAILED REVIEWS OF THE HARRY FLASHMAN NOVELS CLICK HERE.