Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Checkmate is the third novel in the Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell series. Checkmate, like the previous two books, was published under the pseudonym "David Michaels". The previous two books were written by Raymond Benson and Checkmate was written by Grant Blackwood.
Unlike the first two books, Checkmate is not written in first person from the point of view of the protagonist, Sam Fisher, nor does Checkmate continue the running subplots that were previously established in the book series; it is actually set before the previous two books in 2003.
In 2003, Sam Fisher must stop a cargo freighter loaded with radioactive material that is headed towards the coast of the United States, he has minutes to disable the ship - or die trying.
- Sam Fisher - Splinter Cell (Protagonist)
- Irving Lambert
- Anna Grímsdóttir
- William Redding
- Kuan Yin-Zhao (†) - Crushed by a locomotive wheel after being handcuffed by Sam Fisher into a doomed train car in Chapter 60
- Heng (†) - Chinese CIA asset; died several hours later from a shot to the head in Chapter 58
- Marcus Greenhorn (†) - 22-year old hacker on the FBI's 10 Most Wanted List; shot by his own guards in Chapter 22
- Frank Bunch
- Behfar Nassiri - Sole crew member of the Trego; captured by Sam Fisher
- Elena Androtov
- Bird - Pilot. Bird is one of Third Echelon's V-22 Osprey pilots between 2003—2008. He is a typical southern boy with an awshucks drawl and carefree personality to match.
- Sandy - Copilot
- Bai Kang Shek (†) - Found dead in a body bag in Chapter 44
- Max Collins - Captain of the USS Houston (SSN-713)
- Marty Smith - XO of the USS Houston (SSN-713)
- Ailar Marjani - Former head of KNB; captured by Sam Fisher
- Kavad Abelzada (†) - Former Iranian political prisoner; shot by Sam Fisher in Chapter 52
- Jon Goodin - Former Navy SEAL who was a part of Sam Fisher's four-man SEAL squad during the Gulf War between 1990 and 1991
- Tom Richards - CIA Deputy Director of Operations; introduced in Chapter 27
- Chon (†) - Shot by Sam Fisher in Chapter 12
- Tommy (†) - Killed in the yacht Duroc's explosion in Chapter 13
- Lei (†) - Shot by Sam Fisher in Chapter 13
- Alexi - 95-year old Great Patriotic War veteran and former tank commander
- Lok - Private security contractor
- Jim - Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
- Doug - Director of National Intelligence
- Washington D.C. (39°00' North, 74°01' West)
- Fort Meade, Maryland/Third Echelon Headquarters (Situation Room)
- Norfolk Naval Shipyard, Hampton Roads, Virginia
- Slipstone, New Mexico
- Freeport City, Bahamas
- Burj Al Arab, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
- Dakar, Senegal
- Germantown, Maryland
- Cedar Bend Assisted Living Community, Frederick, Maryland.
- Kowloon, Hong Kong
- Lo Wu
- Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, Ukraine
- Pave Low Helicopter, East China Sea
- Ashgabat, Turkmenistan
- Sarani, Iran
- Al Udeid Air Base, Doha, Qatar
- MC-130E "Red Lion 0-6"
- Liaoning Province, China
- Humboldt County, California
- Kiev, Ukraine
- Nomex bodysuit
- Mark V Tactical Operations Suit (codenamed RhinoPlate) (Dragon Skin/Kevlar/RhinoPlate/Gore-Tex)
- HAHO Goshawk
- Skipjack (an IKS)
- Sub-Vocal Transceiver
- Beretta 92F 9mm
- SC Pistol (DART, Glaser Safety Slugs)
- SC-20K M.A.W.S.; NATO 5.56mm Bullpup rounds, gas/frag/chaff grenades, LTL (Less-Than-Lethal) RAFS, Cottonball, and stick shockers, EM pod (), SPs (Surveillance Projectiles) sticky cam and ASE (All-Seeing-Eye)
- Multi-Vision Goggles (Binocular/NV/IR/EM)
Checkmate takes place in 2003, the follow-up novel takes place in 2008. The 2003 date makes it a prequel of sorts to the Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell novel (set in 2005) as it takes place before the events of that story, though it follows an unrelated mission.
The book discusses the history of Sam Fisher's WWII knife, the same one that a fellow Splinter Cell uses in Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Conviction (novel).
This book places Sam Fisher as a member of Third Echelon before 2003, and states that Third Echelon was originally directed by a Presidential charter years before 2003, and that Sam has been a member for a while. This seems to be a reference to the retcon in Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Essentials (which set Third Echelon's founding in the 1990s) as opposed to the Version 1 events of the original Splinter Cell game (which set the date of Third Echelon's founding in 2003, and that of Sam Fisher joining the organization in 2004). Although Version 2 of the original Splinter Cell stated that Third Echelon was founded in 2003 in the manual (reprinting the Version 1 manual), in game, it seems to imply Third Echelon has been around and Sam Fisher was a member for quite some time before the game even begins.
The novel was also criticized for its spelling and grammar errors, as well as the fact that several lines of dialogue place the book in its release year instead of 2003 as intended.
The Islamic Republic of Iran's Air Force, does not operate the General Dynamics F-16 as is mentioned on several occasions. They operate the Grumman F-14 Tomcat in a fighter role.