The Hunt for Red October by Tom Clancy

The Hunt for Red October by Tom Clancy

The Hunt for Red October by Tom Clancy

The Hunt for Red October was the first techno-thriller novel by Tom Clancy. It was published in 1984 by the Naval Institute Press and the U.S. President, at the time, Ronald Reagan said of it, that he had enjoyed reading the book. I’m not surprised, it’s a real page-turner.

It’s a clever plot, with a lot of detail. Russian Naval Captain Marko Ramius, who is of Lithuanian descent, is at sea with his nuclear submarine. The sub is called Red October, hence the books name, and it is bristling with state-of-the-art ballistic missiles. The submarine utilises a silent propulsion system called the caterpillar drive. This means that audio detection by passive sonar is near impossible – this is deeply concerning for the Americans.

He appears to have gone rogue.

We first see a name, Jack Ryan, which we all know now. Jack Ryan works for the Central Intelligence Agency as an analyst. Jack has a theory.  He believes that Ramius is intent on defecting to the United States.

Ramius kills the boats political officer, Ivan Putin, in case he tried to prevent him from defecting. He lies to the crew telling them that they are going to Cuba, but by this time the Russians are in hot pursuit having been notified of his plans by Ramius. The letter arrived after he had set sail.

The Russians pretend that they are on a search and rescue mission, but they will sink Red October if they have to.

As the Red October passes by Iceland whilst making its escape it comes close to the USS Dallas, a Los Angeles-class submarine. The American crew hear an unusual sound, the caterpillar drive, but they don’t initially think that it is as a submarine.

The Americans suspect the motives of the Russians and crews are on alert.

On the Dallas submarine the crew analyse the sonar tape again. They realise that what they heard was the new propulsion system of the Red October.

Jack Ryan then begins to work his magic.

Tom Clancy wrote many fantastic books in his career, but The Hunt for Red October has always been my personal favourite of his.

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A Small Death in Lisbon by Robert Wilson

A small death in Lisbon by Robert Wilson

A small death in Lisbon by Robert Wilson

I was recommended to the works of Robert Wilson by a friend of mine and I am glad I was. The espionage thriller, ‘A small death in Lisbon’, intrigued me and so, along with a love of all things Portuguese, I bought it.

Wilson is a British writer who currently lives in Portugal. He is the son of an RAF fighter pilot, and has a degree in English from Oxford. He was written crime novels based in Benin in West Africa, and also a series set mainly in Seville, in the Andalusian region of southern Spain. Born in 1957, the son of an RAF pilot,  he finished his studies with a degree in English at Oxford University which was clearly a good grounding for what was to come. Wilson won the CWA Gold Dagger for this book  and the German Crime Prize and rightly (or is it writely?) so.

 

A Small Death in Lisbon is an excellent novel by Robert Wilson and well worth the read. The story has several threads which intertwine into a lush tapestry a la finRobert Wilson sets the story in Portugal, which gives a wonderfully exotic air. It involves SS officers during the war and ranges through to sexual intrigue, murder and the contemporary investigations of Inspector José “Zé” Coelho.

Well done Robert!

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