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Tom Clancy and Jack Ryan try to get back to the basics,
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Red Rabbit (Jack Ryan) (Taschenbuch)Tom Clancy's last Jack Ryan novel, "The Bear and the Dragon," was a certifiable disaster. In an attempt to keep toping his previous novels Clancy stopped short of an outright alien invasion and had Jack save the world when Russia and China go to war. For the me the unpardonable sin was that unlike every other Tom Clancy novel, "The Bear and the Dragon" did not have any scenes I wanted to reread again and again from time to time.
So when Clancy decided to go back in time to those thrilling days when Jack Ryan was still the new kid on the block at CIA and Admiral Greer's fair-haired boy, I thought it was a good move. "Red Rabbit" takes place in between "Patriot Games" and "The Hunt for Red October," but because it takes place more in the real world, do not bother yourself with making things fit exactly. There are plenty of real figures running around in this one, although not the Queen and Prince Charles, good friends of Sir John and Lady Ryan that they are, but rather KGB head Andropov, a Polish Pope, an American president who used to be an actor, and a female British Prime Minister.
When I began reading "Red Rabbit" I thought it was obvious that Clancy wanted to write about the downfall of the Soviet Union. After all, he dedicated two of his books to Ronald Reagan as the man who won the war. But the straw that broke the camel's back was Reagan's endorsement of SDI (a.k.a. "Star Wars") because the Soviet Union broke the bank trying to keep up spending money it did not have and the problem is that it this effect was unanticipated (a nice way of saying there was a major element of luck involved). Clearly Clancy wants to do a little historical revision along those lines, not that there is anything wrong with that.
However, that quickly becomes a side issue in "Red Rabbit" which has two major plot threads. The first is Andropov's decision to assassinate the Pope for threatening to support the counterrevolutionists (i.e., union workers) in Poland. The second is the defection of a member of the KGB (the "Red Rabbit" of the title). Of course, the two threads come together. Meanwhile, Jack putters around England with little to do while Ed and Mary Pat Foley are having all the fun in Moscow.
There is an element of suspense involved and if you are surprised seeing as how you remember that Pope John Paul II was not assassinated way back when, then you have probably never read/seen "The Day of the Jackal" or "The Eagle Has Landed." No, the complaints about this novel are going to have more to do with how often it seems like Clancy is covering old ground, from the minute details about running agents in Moscow to Bob Ritter having a cow every time Ryan does anything. I was troubled more by how the back and forth between the two plot lines finally gives way to the predominance of one and then the other. This reflects Clancy's tendency to covers the reader's eyes and ears at key points so he can set something up, but is not especially justified by this particular story line.
"Red Rabbit" is an okay Jack Ryan novel, constituting a sort of back to basics in terms of espionage. There are a few decent scenes worth a second look, but nothing like the treasured scenes I recall from novels past. We might have to get use to the idea there is not going to be another great Jack Ryan novel. I really think Tom Clancy needs a stronger editor. Not just one that would have stopped him from doing "The Bear and the Dragon" (he had set up the possibility of a novel about a presidential campaign, which would have worked well off of the whole rebuilding the government from scratch idea he had been developing), but one that points out to him that he has various characters making the same comments two or three times. Did nobody bother to look or did no one dare to mention it to the author? Then again, maybe the simple irony is that Tom Clancy's writing career has achieved the same sort of destructive momentum of Jack Ryan's career as a character.