Marc Bernardin
September 05, 2003 AT 04:00 AM EDT

The Teeth of the Tiger

Current Status
In Season
Tom Clancy
Fiction, Mystery and Thriller

We gave it a C+

Clancy must really like typing the words Jack Ryan, because now that his ex–CIA analyst/ex-President is no longer remotely credible as an action hero, the author spins his latest eerily prescient tale of spies and Islamic fundamentalist madmen around, conveniently enough, Ryan’s son. And so it’s Jack Jr. who takes a job at ”The Campus,” a privately funded outfit exterminating terrorist threats when the government can’t. Prose has never been Clancy’s strong suit — we’re subjected to more of his ham-fistedly repetitive passages (Tiger really could’ve used stronger editing or, at the very least, proofreading) — but even his vaunted plotting is getting creaky: How could all three of The Campus’ new recruits be in the same family?! At a mere 431 pages, Tiger is half as long as most Clancy opuses, and by the time we get to its air ball of a finale — in which what passes for the bad guy is literally poked in the ass — it feels like the best half is missing.

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