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A little more than thirty years ago Tom Clancy was a Maryland insurance broker with a passion for naval history. Years before, he had been an English major at Baltimore's Loyola College and had always dreamed of writing a novel. His first effort, The Hunt for Red October--the first of the phenomenally successful Jack Ryan novels--sold briskly as a result of rave reviews, then catapulted onto the New York Times bestseller list after President Reagan pronounced it "the perfect yarn." From that day forward, Clancy established himself as an undisputed master at blending exceptional realism and authenticity, intricate plotting, and razor-sharp suspense. He passed away in October 2013.
While last year's Clancy novel, Red Rabbit, hit #1 first week out, sales reportedly were down from previous books, as were the thumbs of critics, who found the book slow, talky and lacking in action. In an effort to repair the damage as well as to revitalize his long-running Jack Ryan series, Clancy has scrapped his usual one-novel-every-two-years cycle to deliver a shorter, swifter tale featuring not Ryan but Ryan's son, also known as Jack, as well as two of young Jack's cousins, fraternal twins Dominic and Brian Caruso, the former an FBI agent, the latter a Marine. All three are recruited to a privately funded vigilante organization, Hendley Associates, that aims to strike at America's enemies-particularly, terrorists-when the Feds can't or won't. The narrative divides into two parts. The first concerns the training of the three, with young Ryan basically pushing his way into the organization while Dominic is signed on after taking the law into his own hands by shooting a child killer, and Brian after demonstrating smarts during combat in Afghanistan. Their grapplings with the moral and logistical demands of their new jobs alternate with a villains' plot, as Islamic terrorists cut a deal with Colombian drug smugglers, sneak into the U.S. and move toward their killing-field objectives, four shopping malls in mid-America. The plot strands tie up in a terrifically exciting sequence, the novel's highlight, as Dom and Brian, by chance shopping at one mall, take down four of the terrorists. But the terrorists kill scores of innocents, so the rest of the novel details American vengeance-the teeth of the tiger-as the twins fly to Europe, followed by Jack, to take out several of the terrorists' handlers. This isn't Clancy's strongest novel, but it's a big improvement over Red Rabbit. Geopolitical analysis and operational details overwhelm the few action sequences, perhaps to the chagrin of many Clancy fans, but the author knows this stuff like no one else and delivers it all in his inimitable clipped manner. Clancy's smart flag-waving and targeting of terrorists will please many, of course, and leaves plenty of room for sequels. Expect generally satisfied fans and huge sales. (On sale Aug. 11) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
This just in: Clancy's new novel will surface in August. Charged with spotting terrorist threats, the top-secret "Campus" has its hands full when Middle East thugs and Colombian drug lords join forces. New Campus recruits include Jack Ryan Jr., son of master spy John Patrick Ryan, now President. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.