July 3, 2015

Book: The Teeth of the Tiger by Tom Clancy

Filed under: Books — Tags: , , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 3:28 pm

imageDavid Greengold, head of Mossad in Italy is murdered in the washroom on what should have been a routine clue pickup trip. Meanwhile a set of brothers are recruited by CIA. Now that Jack Ryan, the hero of almost all of Tom Clancy’s earlier works,  has become President and retired, there is nothing more they can do with him so Tom Clancy brings in his son, Jack Ryan Jr into the story in this book. His comments on the (then) President (presumably George W) are interesting. Even a fully right wing novelist hates him?

Nice touch. Ed Kealty, who was dismissed from Vice Presidency for womanizing and raping in a previous book, is now the President.

Another thing, this book was written in 2003 and Tom predicts that it is Germany who will be dominant in the Euro zone and not France – About 9 years prior to when it actually happened exactly as he predicted! Not bad for a thriller writer…

The Caruso brothers’ training is very interesting. They are invited to join an ultra elite and ultra secret government agency. The agency’s mission is to execute “bad guys” who cannot be prosecuted by law. Their agency does not exist anywhere in records, they will be not in uniform and will be infiltrators in a country they are not welcome in. On top of that, if they are caught, the government will disown them and deny all knowledge about them or their existence.

Meanwhile a group of jihadists headed by Mustafa gets themselves smuggled into the US with the help of Mexican underworld collaborators with the aim of creating mayhem in the country.

Jack Ryan Jr is on their trail through his financial wizardry – shades of his dad. He is on to a shady deal in financial transactions of one suspect, who has been devilishly clever but has made one misstep.

The jihadist assault team arrives in America and is ready to wreak havoc in the malls of middle America. By chance the Caruso brothers happen to be in one mall. They subdue attackers and kill them, not without loss of life and are stunned to hear of coordinated attacks everywhere.

The first target of their masterplan is Uda, who is a shady financier of the attacks. They pop him with a drug needle disguised as a pen, right in front of a tail put there by British Intelligence! The tail had no clue that there was any foul play involved. Fascinating descriptions

The second ‘job’ is to get an Arab living in Germany, right after the first one. They do it and find that a third is already lined up. Jack is sent to join them, as the bosses feel that they need a backup brain to ensure that the wrong one is not whacked by mistake.

In the end Jack takes the initiative to get the biggest of them all so far, when things go accidentally wrong for the brothers.

A typical, enjoyable Tom Clancy but nowhere near the Red Rabbit level perhaps. Would say a 6/10

– – Krishna


April 20, 2014

Book: Debt of Honor by Tom Clancy

Filed under: Books — Tags: , , , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 3:14 pm

imageJack  Ryan is back, this time recruited by the President to be his Chief Security Advisor. His wife Cathy has a patient who, it turns out, was raped by a Senator who is now the Vice President.


The crack CIA team is introduced by showing a warlord is captured in a “friendly African country” and handed over to the government.


Quaint references to SCSI as the “latest technology” (book was written in 1994) will bring smiles to the lips of geeks. And a GB of storage is spoken off with admiration! This is a common hazard among authors, as technology changes with such blinding speed that a   year old story has weird connotations when you read again. In fantasy stories, it seems to be OK to deal with lances and swords and horses, but in a modern story, this dates the story.


One of the evil persons is an Indian admiral Chandrakatta. This  is an invented Indian name by the author; sounds plausible with the Chandra prefix unless you happen to know Indian names well. In his story, the Indians come out well, as brilliant army strategists. But still they are evil since they chose to side with the wrong side.


It is fun to read Tom Clancy explain how a housing bubble works, with his pithy analogies and efficient statements and since Tom does top class research on everything, true as well.


Now for the story. A very successful Japanese businessman is convinced that Japan is being systematically oppressed by US and plots revenge. When a faulty exhaust is involved in a fiery accident that kills a US army officer, the President orders all car imports stopped, which severely impacts Japan and angers this man to an extreme. This is the straw that breaks the camel’s back of patience for him.


Also the VP is being accused of rape and it is being kept under wraps until the next Presidential election is concluded.


Not only does Clancy explain the financial stuff but he also explains a crash pretty well. Amazing explanation for a guy who writes spy thrillers. His inimitable style is there.


To continue with the story : Three things go wrong together for US. There is Japan who declares war suddenly, the VP’s peccadillos get exposed suddenly with a national papers, and on top of that, an ‘easter egg’ in a secret program hatches wiping out financial records of investment trading!
Jack Ryan is a Secretary of Defence and is far removed from the action on the ground such as the ones he was involved in Red Rabbit but then you have Clark and Chavez, you have Chet who is Japanese-American spying in Japan, lovely scenes that explain why people love Tom Clancy’s stories. But there is a lot of fluff and the story flags a lot, descriptions of planes and tanks and weaponry that can be too much.


How they recover from the financial disaster is very interesting!

The US covert actions against Japan is classic Clancy. Book takes off then.
The way they thwart the aggression and the ending of the book are all brilliant. Well done, Clancy. Too bad it took so long to warm up.


Let us say a 6/10

–        – Krishna

May 24, 2012

Book: Red Rabbit by Tom Clancy

Filed under: Books — Tags: , , , , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 4:04 pm

This was my first Clancy and I must say that I was impressed. He writes spy novels but is so different from other spy writers like Alistair McLean. He writes more realistically. He talks about the boring reality of the spy line – nothing happening most of the time. He also mixes in the real spy legends. He talks about Kim Philby (See review of Kim Philby’s real story Treason in the Blood reviewed earlier) and includes tidbits of spy legends and that gives a real feel to the story.

In outlook though, Tom is a dyed in the wool American, Republican, right wing author and this comes through in every rumination of every character out there. His comparisons of UK, Rome and Russia (Soviet Union) with the beloved US are amusing, to say the least.

The story is set at the time of Ronald Reagan in US and Margaret Thatcher in UK. This story features the early days of one of Tom Clancy’s recurring hero, Jack Ryan.

Jack and his eye surgeon wife are posted in UK. Having left the marines and having made his fortune as an Investment Banker, he joins the CIA for the love of serving his country.

It also involves Ed Foley, who is the head of CIA in Moscow, his cover being a diplomatic attache.

Oleg Zaitzev is a secret code man in KGB and when he stumbles on a plot to kill the Pope, his sense of morality is offended and he decides to defect to the US and prevent the murder. Ed’s wife Patricia May, who is also an agent and who speaks fluent Russian too.

The story is about how they outwit the Soviet Empire and take Oleg and his entire family, including the “rabbit” his daughter Svetlana, out of USSR via Hungary and then to UK.

Patricia (Pat) has the brilliant idea of faking their death so that the KGB won’t even suspect that he has defected!

The story is breezily told with asides and many anecdotes in parallel.

In fact, after finishing the book if you think back, you can’t say that Ed or Jack even did anything remotely James Bond-like, and yet the story keeps your interest till the very end. The thoughts and banter alone will carry you along in an easy
storytelling experience, so you don’t notice the passage of pages until you are almost a quarter way into the book.

I think I will definitely read more Tom Clancy.

Weaving real characters (Andropov, the Pope) and real events (Pope John Paul being the victim of assassination) gives an interesting dimension to the story.

Don’t get me wrong; the story is all fluff, like Sydney Sheldon or McLean and is interestingly narrated. It also has a simplistic view of various countries – civilized US, semi-advanced UK, Italy and primitive Soviet Union… But it has a charm in the art of a spy-story telling.

I would award it a 6/10

— Krishna

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