Tag Archives: Tom Clancy

Clancy’s newest not up to expectations

I just finished Tom Clancy’s latest book, Dead or Alive. I have always been a Tom Clancy fan, but I have to confess, I was not impressed with this latest effort, which was co-authored by Grant Blackwood. Maybe that was the problem.

I have been a big Clancy fan ever since he came out with his first big one, The Hunt for Red October. I have read all his fiction thrillers, and most of his non-fiction. I love his stuff. Maybe that’s why I was disappointed at his latest effort.

Clancy returns to the plot line and characters of his earlier book Teeth of the Tiger. As a matter of fact, I re-read Teeth before starting Dead or Alive, just to bring myself up to speed. The second book simply picks up right where Teeth left off.

The main characters, Brian and Dominic Caruso and Jack Ryan Jr. are back, working for the secretive terrorist-hunting organization known as “The Campus.” They are joined by old friends, John Clark and Ding Chavez.

This time the bad guys are working a complex scheme to launch a series of attacks on the US, and it’s up to the guys at “The Campus” to stop them.

Clancy likes to weave together different story lines — seemingly unrelated, but we all know better. (After all, if they weren’t related, they wouldn’t be in the book.) Then they come together to create the plot. However, the biggest problem with the book is that there are so many plotlines that develop so slowly, it is difficult for the reader to keep track of them all.

At least a couple of plotlines never do develop and apparently were inserted just to introduce characters or set the scene for the next book in the series. In one, an Army ranger, is accused of murder for what he did on the battlefield. This premise could be the basis of an entire novel in itself. Instead, the legal issue is dropped and the character is assumed into The Campus team. There were a lot of pages of narrative, just to introduce a new and not advance the main plot of the novel.

In another, Jack Ryan Sr. decides to run for president once again. This also just sets the scene for the next book because after he makes his decision to run, the authors drop the plot line. Ryan is last seen working on his autobiography.

For a true Clancy fan, it’s a good, but lengthy effort. However, if you would like to read a book with a similar plot, but tighter plot development and more compelling characters, try “The Afghan” by Fredrick Forsyth. It is simply outstanding.

A good read

I stayed up too late last night finishing a book. Both Mrs. Poolman and I read for pleasure, she more than I. Mrs. P can knock of a standard paperback book in a single off day.

The book I was reading, The Time Traveler’s Wife, was not my typical fare. I tend to lean more towards action fiction and historical non-fiction. I enjoy authors like John Sandford, James Patterson, W.E.B. Griffin, Tom Clancy, Vince Flynn, John Grisham and Patricia Cornwell. I also have a spot in my heart for Andrew Greely. On the non-fiction side, I consume history, especially military history. And if it flies and shoots, I’m all over it.

Time Travelers WifeAll of that is just a way of setting up that I really enjoyed The Time Traveler’s Wife. I have always been intrigued with the fictional treatments of time travel, starting with HG Wells’ The Time Machine and working on up through Michael Crichton’s Timeline (another really outstanding time-travel book, by the way). Before reading it,  I suspected The Time Traveler’s Wife was a literary version of a “chick flick.” You know what I mean – a movie that deals mostly with relationships and emotions and one of the endearing characters dies at the end, usually of a long lingering illness. (See Steel Magnolias, Terms of Endearment, Fried Green Tomatoes, and others.) While The Time Traveler’s Wife does have many of those characteristics (I won’t spoil it by being more specific.) those are balanced out by the fact that it is still an interesting, well written story that moves along.

The story is about Henry and Clare. Henry has a genetic abnormality that causes him to involuntarily travel in time. One moment he is here, and the next, he is stark naked in another place and time. The author, Audrey Niffengger, avoids the cliché of many time-travel authors by not inserting her  character into any historical settings. This is not a story in which the protagonist performs any great or historical acts. Henry’s time travels are much more personal.

Very early on, Henry and Clare meet. Clare is a stranger to Henry, but Clare has known Henry all her life. An older Henry was repeatedly transported back in time to Clare’s childhood. So when they meet, Henry is Clare’s long-time visitor and friend, while Henry has yet to meet Clare in his “real life.” The book develops their relationship, more or less following the chronological pace of Henry’s “real life.” There are lots of adventures and a couple of mysteries.

All told, it was a good book and I’m really glad I read it. It is definitely worth the effort. We didn’t see the movie when it was at the theaters. I’m looking forward to it’s release on DVD in a few months.