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"Without Remorse" by Tom Clancy

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Old 07-23-2008, 01:16 PM
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Default "Without Remorse" by Tom Clancy


Back in the day when Tom Clancy was a storyteller, not a politician, the man was the best thriller writer bar none. In 1984, Clancy became an overnight phenomenon with his first novel, The Hunt for Red October. Such was the frightening accuracy of his depictions of submarine warfare - including the almost insider knowledge of White House protocols, and the scary detail of most of the United States' top secret terminology - the White House actually tried to ostracise the novel. They failed, and Red October launched the unforgettable career of, in my opinion, the best Technical Thriller writer in history.

Without Remorse is Clancy's seventh novel, but his first in chronological order. Set in 1970, it features one of his recurring characters, John Kelly, otherwise later known by his CIA moniker "John Clark". Having just survived a tour in Vietnam, Kelly retires from active duty and tries to settle down. While driving one morning, he stops for a hitchhiker, and soon finds himself falling for her. But her troubled past keeps coming up, and Kelly has to deal with that and another unforseen issue.

In one of Ho Chi Minh's death camps in Laos, Vietnam, a group of American soldiers are being held as prisoners of war. The CIA want them out, and they need Kelly's help to do it.

(Spoiler alert! Do not read on if you haven't read this book and wish to do so in the near future!)

Kelly soon discovers that the hitchiker, Pam's, past is not as buried as she had originally thought. She was a prostitute, and she escaped from that life without permission, but not without all its hitches. Kelly learns about her addiction to drugs, and the nightmare world which she has lived in for the past five years. Yet, before they can plan a future together, the horrors of her past reach out to snatch her from him. Kelly vows revenge, but learns that there are other people who need his deadly skills. The CIA want him for their mission; he has his own. Torn between the two, Kelly embarks on a journey which will take him from North Vietnam to Baltimore. As he attempts to juggle the two, he steps into a world he thought he'd left behind, and this time there's no turning back.

If you want a seriously good revenge yarn, look no further than this novel. It's my favourite all-time Clancy novel, and his second-best, in my opinion, just behind the record-breaking Clear and Present Danger. If you're new to Clancy, and haven't yet read any of his work, I suggest starting with Without Remorse. You will be hard-pressed to find a better thriller - never mind Clancy - book than this one. It is Tom Clancy as his unforgettable best. Just don't touch any of his new stuff. It is amazing how quickly they can put you off reading his work.

SD.

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Old 07-23-2008, 04:36 PM
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i kept reading his stuff just to find out how jack ryan got to be president and how he did in the job... but had to skip about 1/3 of each book, to stick to the plot and not be put to sleep with his boring ramblings, as usual...
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Old 07-23-2008, 04:48 PM
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Default Tom Clancy

Ah, Tom Clancy, the manliest of authors... (By which I mean lotsa plot, not so much feeling. Stereotypical, I know...)

I like Tom Clancy's early work, especially Without Remorse, which is the only book of his I'd re-read. I am always amazed by his research and ability to make technical stuff sound so effortless. (An honest-to-God passion of his, I suspect!)

MORE SPOILERS FOR WITHOUT REMORSE
I like the fact that a lot of the action happens in the U.S., in cities I can imagine. When he kills the pimps, it was a whole lot more immediate to me than when he killed the prison guards in the Vietnamese jungle.

John Kelly doesn't waste much time in rationalizing, does he? He kills the Vietnamese because "They're the enemy; don't ask why". He kills the pimps because they need killing. There's something curiously un-modern about his character, like he follows some ancient warrior code that he sees no need to explain. He's chivalrous with women. He won't kill cops (the patrolman or the detective), even though he knows they're after him. My favorite scene, for its unintentional comedy, is the one where he's just rescued a bunch of drugged out prostitutes, and he puts them in the squad car with the handcuffed officer from earlier. He's trying to be all menacing and growly, the cop is having an attitude problem, the girls are high and can't see straight... Classic.

As I said, his early stuff was good, but his later novels are long and impenetrable. Every character, no matter how minor, gets a name and backstory, even if they're never mentioned again. Occasionally they will be mentioned again, and they'll be significant. Then I'm like: "Wait, who is this again?" *sigh* I wonder if he got trapped in some kind of "Two books a year" contract or something. A lot of his later work could use some serious editing. Just my opinion!

HoiLei.

Last edited by HoiLei; 07-23-2008 at 04:50 PM.. Reason: clarification
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