Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Amid Carnage, Life Goes On

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Amid Carnage, Life Goes On

Article excerpt

DEBT OF HONOR A novel by Tom Clancy 764 pages, Putnam, $25.95

BOOKSELLERS across the republic must brace for the crush. Tom Clancy has written another novel - and in this one, the United States goes to war with Japan.

Sort of.

As usual, Clancy opens his novel with what seem to be a confusion of subplots. In the first hundred or so pages of "Debt of Honor," the reader must come to grips with:

*Well-hidden missiles with nuclear warheads, sunken in silos by the Japanese.

*A vice president exposed as a serial rapist.

*The Indian navy starting to get sassy with the United States Navy.

*A cleverly computerized scheme to bring Wall Street to its knees.

*Those old enemies, the CIA and the KGB, working together.

*Our old friend, Jack Ryan, working in the White House as the president's national security adviser.

*A Japanese blitzkrieg against the Marianas - you know, Saipan, Guam, Tinian, all those names from World War II.

"In retrospect," the book begins, "it would seem an odd way to start a war." And in the reading, it's an odd kind of war. Clancy's fans will recall that in "Red Storm Rising," the author already wrapped up WW III. That makes the much lower-key war in "Debt of Honor" WW III.2, or something like that.

To be sure, people get killed, ships get sunk, planes get blown from the sky. But in the middle of it all, life goes on, CNN stays on the air and the Japanese ambassador meets regularly with the State Department.

Does the book work? As unlikely as it may seem, of course it works. Clancy has plenty of faults, but failure to hook a reader isn't among them.

About those faults: This book is probably twice the length it ought to be. As always, Clancy explains everything to death, from airborne radar to Wall Street's psychology. …

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