Tom Clancy’s ‘The Hunt for Red October’

A Must Read 300It’s been awhile since I have reviewed an action/espionage novel, so I figured it was time to pick up a book that I have been told to read for years now: Tom Clancy’s The Hunt for Red October. Until this point, I had never really read much of Clancy’s work, though I had been told that some of his works, this in particular, are a must read. The Hunt for Red October was Clancy’s first published novel, and follows the character Jack Ryan, a CIA analyst whose task it is to hunt down the Soviet nuclear submarine, Red October, hence, the novel’s name. Red October is a particularly dangerous piece of Soviet technology: not only is it a nuclear submarine, but it utilizes a propulsion system that is almost undetectable by sonar, meaning that it could park in American waters and fire with almost no warning. On board the aquatic menace is Marko Ramius, a submarine commander in the Soviet Navy and son of a powerful Soviet politician. Ramius has plans to defect with his fellow officers, but the Russian forces have caught on to Ramius’ intentions. Now, both Ryan and Ramius are entangled in a massive international incident that leaves the ownership of the superweapon up in the air.

So, now that you know the basic premise, the question is, “How was it?” Quite frankly, I’m surprised I hadn’t read this novel before, and I am disappointed in myself as an espionage fan for not having done so. Everything in this book rockets ahead at a compelling pace, but Clancy’s real skill as a writer isn’t necessarily in the amount of detail or the likability of protagonist Jack Ryan (though, Clancy does excel in both of these categories). Clancy is masterful in his dialogue. Oftentimes in these action/espionage novels the dialogue is campy or stale, with the emphasis being placed on the large setpiece moments. Clancy’s dialogue flows naturally, contains an appropriate and enjoyable amount of wit, and ultimately serves to bump up the believability of the tale by several degrees. In terms of plot progression, you probably won’t be too surprised by what you see, but that is in many cases due to the fact that several spy novel tropes were started by this very story. If you are a fan of the genre, you owe it to yourself to check out Tom Clancy’s The Hunt for Red October. After reading this, I look forward to delving deeper into Clancy’s lineup of novels.

Source: Jake Depew, Assistant Editor