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maandag 30 augustus 2010

Red Rabbit by Tom Clancy

A boring book in many ways

When in the early 80’s the brand new Pope, John Paul II, delivers an ultimatum to Warsaw to stop its repression, he does not seem to be aware of the consequences his actions will have on the world of politics. One of the main political players is Yuriy Andropov, chairman of the KGB, and his is far from happy with what the leader of the Catholic Church has decided to do. Therefore he demands immediate action.

At the same time Jack Ryan gets involved into his first field assignment. His mission is to help transport a Russian defector and his family to the United States with the help of the British SIS. The defector has information that might save the life of the daring pope. But Jack is fully prepared for his task and will have to do with all the support he can get.

To be honest, I did not read a Clancy novel before I started on Red Rabbit. But because the cover suggested that this story would describe how Jack Ryan started his life as a hero, it wouldn’t be such a bad idea to begin with this novel. I watched and liked the film version of Hunt for the Red October, so I already had some idea of what Tom Clancy’s opus is all about. All this did not help to drown my disappointment while reading Red Rabbit.

The story is quite realistic, although it is clearly written with a feeling of American superiority in mind. As a European I have difficulties understanding this American patriotism, but that would not necessarily hinder me in enjoying a good story. But sadly enough that is exactly what is missing from this book. Tom really was in the mood of making weaving a story strongly hooked into reality, but as you may know reality is not always synonym for exciting. The story drags and drags and although it keeps the promise of a big final alive, it never delivers. Some story arcs just die without any denouement. Where the narrative really shows the craftsmanship of a talented writer, the plotting can’t get me enthusiastic at all. I will have to try one of his earlier works, I guess.

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