Picks and Pans Review: Debt of Honor
by Tom Clancy
The end of the Cold War, while an obvious boon to mankind in general, is nonetheless not the best news for an author of fending-off-the-Red-threat techno-thrillers.
In Debt of Honor, Clancy tries to bridge the gap with a frenzy of subplots and detours. The various crises he keeps in the air in these 766 pages include rape charges against a sitting Vice President; a vicious U.S.-Japan trade war followed by a U.S.-Japan shooting war; the irrelevant capture by two CIA operatives of a Mideast drug terrorist; preparations for a war between the U.S. and India (over Sri Lanka); a stock-market crash; a crusade against defective automobile gas tanks; and the destruction of the world's last two nuclear missiles.
More or less at the center of all this—though he disappears for pages at a time—is Clancy's upwardly mobile hero, Jack Ryan, who starts the novel as a national security adviser and ends up as Vice President.
While he has never pretended to be a great stylist, Clancy seems increasingly clumsy as a writer. He also burdens the reader with gratuitous lectures on such subjects as the Federal Reserve System, computers and real estate. You may get whiplash from the furious topic-hopping (rare is the page that doesn't span three continents), but you won't be bored. Aside to Paramount: Don't even think about making this book into a movie with less than $50 million and a cast of 5,000. (Putnam, $25.95)
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