Wednesday, December 08, 2010
OK, so apart from those genuinely saintly souls sent by Providence as examples to the rest of us, is there anyone with a pulse in this country who wouldn't like to see Osama bin Laden dead? Should he yet fall into our hands, even this writer — an implacable opponent of capital punishment — sees no reason to take the evil SOB alive.
That's the animating fantasy at the heart of Tom Clancy's sprawling but propulsive new thriller, "Dead or Alive," his 15th novel since he exploded like a cluster bomb onto bestseller lists with "The Hunt for Red October" in 1984. In recent years, his equally sprawling $100-million book, film and game empire has come to rely increasingly on "collaborators," one of whom — Grant Blackwood, a veteran of Clive Cussler's similar operation — is credited here. Still, this latest book, like the most interesting of Clancy's work, has a tendency to both pander to popular fantasy (in this case, revenge) and, simultaneously, to play against it with hard-headed insights into the real world of military and intelligence operations. It's a fruitful tension that lends his books a quirky, appealing unpredictability that sometimes can survive even the author's eye-rolling politics.
Click on the heading above for the full review by Tim Rutten.