Wednesday, February 04, 2009
Book Report: A Clear and Present Danger by Tom Clancy (1989)
When reading Clancy books, you come away from them about seven hundred pages later with the description, "It's the drug war in Colombia one," or "It's the nuke at the Superbowl one," or "It's the one with the submarine." This one happens to be the one with the drug war in Colombia. Maybe that's better than you get with a lot of thrillers, especially ones of this size.

The British first edition I have here clocks in at 816 pages; you know what? That's sort of okay, since Clancy is quite honestly writing serious epic stuff here. Even though this one doesn't bring the United States to the brink of a major war, it has enough tension within it to mostly sustain its size. Clancy uses his standard characters of Ryan and Clark (and introduces some soon-to-be standard ones in this book). Additionally, he details a lot of incidents and makes a lot of throwaway minor characters into actual characters.

Plot summary: The US government sends covert troops into Colombia to report on drug flights leaving; when the drug lords kill an important government official, the government orders them to start attacking. And then the government abandons them when it's convenient, but Jack Ryan and Clark don't let that happen.

There's a lot of double-dealing, a lot of plot turns, and it almost makes you forget you're reading 800 pages of fiction. But not quite.

Still, it moves along faster than a Dickens novel (but Dickens novels, being shorter, are quicker to the finish line). It's also quicker than an O'Brian Master and Commander sort of book, which carries the same amount of technology cut into it (albeit an old-fashioned technology). And a meal of Clancy really sates your thirst for his books for another year or two and opens a big space on your to-read bookshelves for stuff coming from book fairs this year.

If that's not a book report damning with faint praise, I don't know what it; however, I did enjoy it.

Books mentioned in this review:


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