Another in the popular series of Op-Center thrillers, Balance of Power sets the stage in Spain, as tensions between various ethnic factions are pushing the country to the brink of disaster.
This audio version is narrated by Jay O. Sanders (JFK, Kiss the Girls) in a rich basso profundo, but the usual Clancyesque intelligence jargon, technospeak, and geopolitical shorthand prove to be more than a mouthful. Sanders does his best to keep pace with the considerable action, but it's a tall order, especially with the added complications of Spanish names, places, and dialogue, which, for him, are obviously in a foreign language.
As the story unfolds, high-level diplomatic and intelligence teams are working overtime to diffuse the crisis when their efforts are shot down by an assassin's bullet. That's when the real trouble begins: "As intelligence chief Bob Herbert had put it before Martha had left Washington, 'This will make the Spanish Civil War look like a brawl.'"
The story features a broad cast of characters, some of which may flirt with stereotype. Despite this drawback, it's interesting to find these relatively obscure politics brought front and center. While this may not be the very best that Op-Center can produce, for die-hard Clancy fans it's another chance to enter the fray. (Running time: 4 hours, 4 cassettes) --George Laney