Red Rabbit by Tom Clancy

This High-Tech Spy Thriller is Not a Typical Clancy Novel

Even though this particular Clancy book could be called lumbering or slow-moving, the author’s incredible ability to write fly-on-the-wall narrative ensures that it’s still highly readable. And if you stick to the right sequence in reading this series, Red Rabbit will probably be a pleasurable and engaging read. For long-standing Jack Ryan fans, it’s also great to get a closer look at the protagonist back when he worked in the field instead of the more bureaucratic roles he had in later years.

Red, Red and Red

This is one of at least three Clancy books that have the word ‘Red’ in the title – ‘The Hunt for Red October’ and ‘Red Storm Rising’ being the other two. In this meticulously detailed account of the plot to kill Pope John Paul II in 1981, the importance of red tape is as evident as the threat of communism, which is frequently represented by the color red. The novel paints a sharp picture of the assassination attempt and how the KGB was responsible for it. Pope John Paul II was shot and wounded by a Turkish assassin called Mehmet Ali Ağca who acted on behalf of the Bulgarian intelligence services who, in turn, were representing Russian intelligence. Of course, our protagonist is in the thick of it in his role as an analyst in the United Kingdom, as the liaison between American intelligence and British intelligence.

This Is Where It All Started for Jack Ryan

As he gets settled in England with his family, Ryan happens to stumble on a plot to assassinate the pope. He teams up with a Russian defector who is helping America and England to prevent the assassination from taking place. Although one questions why the young Ryan is given a responsibility of such magnitude, it certainly serves as an excellent introduction into future roles in books like ‘Clear and Present Danger’ and ‘The Sum of All Fears.’ What a clever place to put Ryan in as a launching point for his career in espionage. This has made him come alive while also keeping his core values in line with other novels.

The Verdict

Clancy’s ability to mix international political intrigue with action is reinforced with his in-depth technical knowledge. It’s particularly clear in this book that the author doesn’t just wing it with imagination and instead is serious about research. The first half of the book explores the inner workings of some of the top intelligence services around the world. This could mean that some readers consider it a slow start to a spy thriller, but for those interested in the nuts and bolts of the most secretive agencies in the world, it’s quite an eye-opener. Considering the level of research Clancy is known for, one would think that it is at least reasonably accurate. However, it has to be said that his usual attention to detail when it comes to warfare, operational tactics and weaponry was not really shown in this book, which could be a damper for some fans.


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