The Teeth of the Tiger
It is somewhat difficult to believe that THE TEETH OF THE TIGER is
Tom Clancy's thirteenth novel. One would think that he has written
a veritable library of Jack Ryan tales; this simply isn't so. One
might have that impression because, in addition to his novels,
Clancy has authored nine nonfiction books concerning the U.S.
military and has also fathered a couple of different ongoing series
regarding special operation branches within and outside the Armed
But THE TEETH OF THE TIGER is only --- only! --- his thirteenth.
And a lucky one it is. For this is in many ways the beginning of a
new legacy for Clancy, providing the perfect vehicle for readers
who perhaps fell away a book or two ago and for readers heretofore
unfamiliar with Clancy to jump on. At the same time, it provides an
exciting yet comfortable ride for those readers who have been with
Clancy all along.
THE TEETH OF THE TIGER introduces Hendley Associates, a privately
held company that does a quietly profitable business investing and
wheeling and dealing in stocks, bonds and currencies. Operating out
of its headquarters, known as "The Campus," its real purpose and
mission is to identify, locate and neutralize terrorist threats.
Hendley was set up with the knowledge and received the blessing of
President Jack Ryan who, before leaving office, supplied Hendley
Associates with a drawer full of signed and undated presidential
pardons should any of its agents somehow be caught in the
engagement of clandestine activities.
Hendley recruits quietly from a number of sources, and its first
acquisitions are the Caruso brothers. Dominic is a rookie FBI agent
who attracts Hendley's attention when he quickly and decisively
resolves a horrendous kidnapping and murder. His twin brother Brian
is a Marine captain who rapidly distinguished himself during his
first combat mission in Afghanistan. Both men begin their training,
with Brian in particular having some initial misgivings ---
misgivings that are quickly put to rest when they stumble across a
terrorist action with tragic consequences. Hendley unleashes the
brothers, who cut a quiet but lethal globetrotting swath through an
army of terrorists that threatens to conquer the United States a
piece at a time.
Meanwhile Hendley has acquired a new hire, one who actually comes
to them, having analytically surmised Hendley's mission and
purpose. That new hire is Jack Ryan, Jr., son of the former
president and cousin to the Caruso brothers. Ryan quickly
demonstrates an uncanny ability to assimilate and connect random
bits of information and make assumptions that more often than not
turn out to be on the money. Soon enough, he finds himself joining
his cousins in what is to be the role of a passive analyst. Fate,
however, has other plans for the three of them.
THE TEETH OF THE TIGER is an incredibly fast-paced novel, in which
Clancy eschews the technical explanations that occasionally bogged
down the narratives of some of his previous novels. While he
continues to demonstrate an uncanny ability to understand and
relate to the reader The Way Things Work, the focus of THE TEETH OF
THE TIGER is more concerned with the ins and outs of intelligence
gathering than with the how and why of munitions (though there is a
bit of that as well). Clancy continues to play to his strengths,
however; there is simply no one who is better at describing the
action of battle, especially the new battles in the war on terror,
that occur quickly, sometimes quietly, and often without warning.
Clancy also displays a fine sense of symmetry in THE TEETH OF THE
TIGER, from the beginning of the tale until the very end.
Junior Ryan and the Caruso brothers are just right as well; they
are young and make the mistakes in the field that young men would
make, but they are errors caused by and often resolved by
enthusiasm and energy. That enthusiasm and energy is Clancy's as
well, and it translates onto the printed page. I'm not sure if I'm
ready to call THE TEETH OF THE TIGER Clancy's best book, but I
would most assuredly at this point call it my favorite. Highly
recommended, whether you're a Clancy fan or not.
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 23, 2011