Picks and Pans Review: Patriot Games

updated 08/10/1987 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/10/1987 01:00AM

by Tom Clancy

The author of the surprise 1984 best-seller The Hunt for Red October has written a better book than his second novel, Red Storm Rising. That's not saying much. Patriot Games, like Clancy's other novels, is ridiculous from beginning to end. His hero, Jack Ryan, who first appeared in Red October, has all the depth of Dick Tracy. Ryan, an ex-Marine who teaches at the Naval Academy, is in England with his wife (an ace surgeon at Johns Hopkins) and their 4-year-old daughter. In a London park, they hear an explosion. The front of a Rolls-Royce has been demolished by a grenade. Ryan shoves his womenfolk to safety and then wipes out a couple of Irish terrorists who are trying to kidnap Prince William. Prince Charles is terribly grateful if ashamed that he had to be saved by this American—until Ryan tells him to buck up. Queen Elizabeth makes Ryan a knight, but the evil terrorists who survive will not be done out of their revenge. Nine months later, when Chuck and Diana are eating steak in the Ryans' house on a cliff overlooking Chesapeake Bay in Maryland, a small war breaks out. That's the plot. The royal characters are a particular embarrassment. The dialogue is stunningly inept: "For a soldier," a soldier muses, "tradition is often the reason one carries on when there are so many reasons not to. It's more than just yourself, more than just your mates—but it's not just something for soldiers, is it? It is true—or should be true—of any professional community." Clancy's popularity is truly baffling. (Putnam, $19.95)

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