Picks and Pans Review: Red Rabbit

updated 09/09/2002 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 09/09/2002 AT 01:00 AM EDT

By Tom Clancy

If the nuclear-terrorism movie based on Tom Clancy's The Sum of All Fears kept you up all night, here's the antidote: a novel like warm milk laced with NyQuil. As Red Rabbit opens, Soviet leaders are plotting to kill the Pope. A KGB agent sympathetic to the Pontiff considers defecting, while hero Jack Ryan balances family life with his CIA job. Six hundred pages later, virtually nothing has changed.

We know the Pope will get shot—but survive—because we saw it on the news 21 years ago. Getting to that conclusion demands slogging through then-KGB-head Yuri Andropov's conversations with his bureaucratic colleagues, not to mention the tedious theorizing among Ryan's CIA bosses on what the boring Soviet deskniks might be thinking about Andropov's plan. The only suspense lies in wondering whether something will happen before the book runs out of pages. Rent a James Bond movie instead, comrade. (Putnam, $28.95)

Bottom Line: Dead rabbit

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