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)