Tom Clancy passed away today. I can’t imagine any thriller writers today who didn’t read at least one of his books. “The Hunt for Red October” was likely his best. My favorites, however, were “Patriot Games” and “The Cardinal of the Kremlin.”
The late 1980s influenced my debut novel and the entire “Connor Stark” series I’m writing. There was Katherine Neville’s “The Eight,” Bill Granger’s “November Man” series, William F. Buckley’s “Blackford Oakes” series, and Robert B. Parker’s “Spenser” series. And then there was Clancy.
What drew me, like so many, to his novels? It was the characters we loved and wanted to see again. It was the intricate plot lines. It was the plausibility and realism. It was a time that American seapower was in the news with the build-up of the nearly 600-ship Navy Reagan and Lehman fought for. It was reflected in popular culture with films like “Top Gun.” And then there was “Red Storm Rising” and “The Hunt for Red October.” At the height of the Cold War, anything could happen. As Clancy’s Captain Ramius put it: “Once more, we play our dangerous game, a game of chess against our old adversary – The American Navy. For forty years, your fathers before you and your older brothers played this game and played it well. But today the game is different.”
Clancy saw the differences in the game. Spies, terrorists, the Middle East, the Soviet Union, China, treason, dysfunctions on Capitol Hill, environmental activists – Clancy’s books had them all. And, in reality, the threats are all still with us.
Every novelist is happy when their book is finally published, but I was honored and thrilled when “The Aden Effect” was accepted and published by Naval Institute Press which also first released “The Hunt for Red October.” As the saying goes, “we stand on the shoulders of giants.” Among military thriller writers, there was no greater giant than Tom Clancy.
Tom Clancy, departing. “One ping, Vasily. One ping only.”