Point of Contact is a Jack Ryan Series novel written by Mike Maden. In the story, Jack Ryan, Jr. and his associate Paul Brown are sent on what appears to be a simple audit of Dalfan Technologies, a cutting-edge technology company located in Singapore. But when they find that both the Chinese and the North Koreans are interested in what is going on at Dalfan, things get a lot more interesting...and dangerous.
Publishers Summary[edit | edit source]
Former U.S. Senator Weston Rhodes is a defense contractor with an urgent problem. His company needs someone to look over the books of Dalfan Technologies, a Singapore company—quickly. He turns to his old friend Gerry Hendley for help. Hendley Associates is one of the best financial analysis firms in the country and the cover for The Campus, a top-secret American intelligence agency. Rhodes asks for two specific analysts, Jack Ryan Jr., and Paul Brown, a mild-mannered forensic accountant.
Both Ryan and Brown initially resist, for different reasons. On the long flight over, Ryan worries he’s being sidelined from the next Campus operation in America’s war on terror. Brown—who was never very good with people—only worries about the numbers, and finding a good cup of tea.
Brown has no idea Jack works for The Campus but the awkward accountant is hiding secrets of his own. Rhodes has tasked him with uploading a cyberwarfare program into the highly secure Dalfan Technologies mainframe on behalf of the CIA.
On the verge of mission success, Brown discovers a game within the game, and the people who now want to kill him are as deadly as the cyclone bearing down on the island nation. Together Ryan and Brown race to escape both the murderous storm and a team of trained assassins in order to prevent a global catastrophe, even at the cost of their own lives.
Plot[edit | edit source]
Supreme Leader of North Korea Choi Ha-guk has a meeting with his advisors to discuss the upcoming summit where President Jack Ryan will be visiting China. Deputy Ri Kwan-ju from the General Administrative Services Directorate alludes to the summit as some kind of opportunity.
Former Senator Weston Rhodes comes to Hendley Associates and requests the services of Paul Brown, a financial analyst, and Jack Ryan Jr. The job he wants to give them is to fly to Singapore and check out a company he is interested in acquiring and audit their assets. Confidentially he asks Brown to perform an additional service: secretly install a program on the company’s computer network that will supposedly search for malicious code and report back.
Upon arriving in Singapore, Ryan and Brown are met by Lian Fairchild, head of security at Dalfan Technologies and the CEO’s daughter. She drives them to her father’s house to meet him. They have dinner with Gordon Fairchild and also meet Yong Fairchild, the chief financial officer and son of Dr. Fairchild. Dr. Fairchild expresses some concern that Rhodes may want to pull out of the deal, but it seems that Yong is not in favor of the deal at all. The next day Ryan and Brown arrive at Dalfan to begin their audit. Brown notes the security measures in place and begins to doubt that he will be able to install the program Rhodes gave him at all. In a short phone call he tells Rhodes of his doubts, and Rhodes urges him to find a way to install the program in spite of the difficulties. After the call, he nervously reflects on why he gave the job to Brown. He was approached by Tervel Zvezdev, a man he knew who formerly worked for the Second Directorate of the Committee for State Security in Bulgaria. Zvezdev said that he had a plan for driving the stock price of Dalfan Technologies down and making a profit from it, and he was the one who initially provided the USB device to Rhodes.
Brown comes up with a new plan to install the program Rhodes gave him on the Dalfan network. He will copy the program to his laptop, then use one of Dalfan’s USB drives, one with proprietary encryption, to copy the program from his laptop to the Dalfan network.
At Dalfan headquarters Ryan is shown the company's flagship program called Steady Stare. It combines flying drones, cameras and AI to provide surveillance and analysis of the entire city’s population. Meanwhile Brown convinces his minder at Dalfan to provide him with one of the company’s USB drives, making a case that he needs it for his work. He hits a roadblock when he realizes that the program is too large to fit on one of Dalfan’s proprietary USB drives. While he continues to try to make progress on the clandestine job of installing the program on Dalfan’s network, he continues the audit of Dalfan’s books. He finds a suspicious pattern of transactions with an importer in Shanghai.
Back at their guest house Ryan and Brown discuss their findings from the day. Brown had found that Dalfan had been making and selling a large number of disposable mobile phones to China at a reduced rate. Ryan agrees with Brown that the transactions with the Shanghai business are suspicious. Brown tells Ryan where the warehouse is that the phones were being shipped from. Ryan drives to the warehouse, but when the guards at the gate stop him, he leaves. Meanwhile Brown calls Gavin Biery back at Hendley Associates with a request. He makes up a story about a possible national security breach and enlists Biery’s help in getting the Dalfan encryption installed on the device that he is supposed to install on the Dalfan network. Biery gets back to Brown with a program that he can download from the internet that will help him install the Dalfan encryption on the USB drive from Rhodes.
In North Korea, Chairman Choi and Deputy Ri are having a conversation and it is clear that in reality it was the North Koreans who wrote the software on the USB drive that Brown has. They have put Zvezdev up to getting the virus installed at Dalfan.
Back at Dalfan headquarters, Ryan and Brown meet Dr. Heng. Heng tells them about the research his group is doing in the field of quantum cryptography, which would provide instantaneous communication across large distances that are secure. With what Brown has found so far about transactions between the company and China, Ryan begins to wonder if China is trying to acquire the technology. Later Ryan returns at night to the warehouse he tried to get in before, this time determined to break in and have a look at whatever is being so closely guarded. But when he gets in he finds that it has been cleared out. He then goes back to Dalfan headquarters, sneaks in and accesses the Steady Stare system. He finds the truck that picked up what was being stored at the warehouse and views the recording of it delivering the cargo to another warehouse in another part of town. He then borrows a Dalfan van. On his way to the second warehouse he spots a suspicious van and memorizes the license plate. Just as he arrives a tractor-trailer runs into his van and drives away. Ryan is shook up, but presses on to the warehouse on foot. At the warehouse he is attacked by four Chinese men with bats and knives, but Ryan fights back and kills them. He finds no clues at the warehouse: apparently they had already cleared out anything of importance and set up an ambush.
Ryan returns to the guest house. Brown wonders where Ryan was all night and what he was doing, and becomes more suspicious of Ryan. They return to Dalfan headquarters to continue their audit work. Lian calls Ryan into a conference room and questions him about the van that was stolen, suspicious of Ryan. Ryan acts like he doesn't know anything about it and wasn’t involved, apparently satisfying Lian. Meanwhile Brown finally has a chance to load the USB drive from Rhodes onto a Dalfan computer. At the last moment he decides to look at the lines of code in the program and notices that it looks a lot like a virus he has seen before. After his conference with Lian, Ryan tries to locate Brown. But Brown, along with most of the staff, have left the building because of a typhoon that is approaching Singapore. Ryan returns to the guest house to look for Brown and finds the place ransacked. He calls Biery for help. Remembering the suspicious van from earlier, he gives the license plate to Biery to see what information he can find about it. It’s a rental van with GPS tracking, so Biery is able to give Ryan its position. Ryan finds the van just as it is pulling up to a whorehouse called the Pink Lily. He follows the men inside, who go straight to a room where Brown is hiding. Ryan arrives just as the men start attacking Brown. Ryan fights them and kills them. Brown questions Ryan, and once he is satisfied that Ryan can be trusted he tells Ryan about the USB drive Rhodes gave him.
They return to the guest house and find Lian, who has been looking for them. Lian tells them that Yong has gone on a business trip with his girlfriend Meili to China, leaving Ryan’s questions about the China connection unanswered. Brown goes upstairs to get his laptop and before he comes back down, someone throws flashbang grenades in the house. Ryan is knocked unconscious and when he wakes up, Lian is there but Brown is gone. Ryan concludes that their attackers have abducted Brown and have taken him to Dalfan to force him to use the USB drive on the computer network there. They drive to Dalfan and when Brown’s abductors see them, they start a gunfight with them. Ryan and Lian kill the abductors and free Brown, who has been tortured and has given up the password for the USB drive. The program on it has been loaded onto the network and, through the network’s direct access to the stock markets, is set to create economic chaos the next morning. With the power and mobile phone service out in Singapore, they decide to drive to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia to try and get help in preventing the damage the virus can cause.
As they reach the bridge that crosses the river and leads to Malaysia the storm outside is raging. They make it partway across when the waters rise over the road and disable the van they are driving. They continue on foot. A large wave slams Ryan into the concrete barrier and he is injured. North Koreans have been alerted to them and a group of them head from their embassy to try to find them.
After crossing into Malaysia, Ryan, Brown and Lian find a salvage yard just off of the highway. On the highway, still some distance away they see the North Koreans approaching in their car. Lian recognizes the danger and urges them inside the junkyard. Inside the junkyard's garage they find a motorcycle with a sidecar. With Ryan injured and struggling to stay coherent, they quickly decide that Lian will escape on the motorcycle with Ryan in the sidecar, and Brown will stay behind and hold off the North Koreans. Finding a large forklift, Brown rams the car with the North Koreans inside. Some of them survive and after a firefight, Brown is killed and Lian and Ryan escape. Because of Brown’s sacrifice they are able to alert authorities and prevent the virus from affecting the world markets.
Days later, Rhodes is arrested for conspiring to crash the stock market. Brown is given a proper burial in his hometown in the state of Iowa, where Ryan as well as his father, President Jack Ryan, and members of the intelligence community attend. A flashback establishes that Brown was honored in the CIA for saving Rhodes from an ambush by Zvezdev in Sofia, Bulgaria in 1985, where he had seemingly killed the Bulgarian intelligence officer. Meanwhile, Zvezdev was implied to have been killed by the North Koreans for failing to do his job, and his remains were then stuffed in a kimchi jar.
Principal Characters[edit | edit source]
- Gerry Hendley
- John Clark
- Domingo Chavez
- Dominic Caruso
- Jack Ryan, Jr.
- Gavin Biery
- Adara Sherman
- Bartosz Jankowski
United States Government
- Paul Brown
- Weston Rhodes
- Gordon Fairchild
- Lian Fairchild
- Yong Fairchild
- Choi Ha-guk
- Ri Kwan-ju
- Tervel Zvezdev
Trivia[edit | edit source]
- Deepwater Horizon is mentioned in chapter 1. It is alluding to the real-world event where, because of a lapse in safety protocols, there was a blowout on an offshore oil rig on April 20, 2010. Not only was it an environmental disaster but some of the crew lost their lives.
- The slaughter of Arik Yacoby and his family mentioned in chapter 5 is detailed in the early part of Support and Defend.
- The fall of Choi Ji-hoon, the previous dictator in North Korea (and also Choi Ha-guk's cousin), which is mentioned in chapter 8, is detailed in Full Force and Effect.