Tom Clancy's recent novels have featured such incredible plot twists as a jetliner slamming into the U.S. Capitol building, a worldwide stock market crash triggered by computer sabotage and the release of the deadly Ebola virus across America.
Through all those fantastic turns, Clancy has somehow managed to maintain a certain plausibility - that what he was writing about could actually happen.With his new novel, however, Clancy may have crossed the line into the realm of the unbelievable. "Rainbow Six" will sell well, no doubt, because of Clancy's well-earned reputation as the master of the techno-thriller, but I suspect even some of his most rabid fans will shake their heads at parts of this novel.
"Rainbow Six" is the story of John Clark, the CIA spy featured in so many of Clancy's previous stories. (President Jack Ryan is only briefly mentioned this time around.) Rainbow Six is the code name for Clark, head of a secret squad of soldiers called Rainbow. It's a team of commandos based in Britain created to battle terrorists no matter where they strike.
Just weeks into its deployment, Rainbow must deal with an assault on a German bank, the attempted kidnapping of a wealthy stock market player and a hostage situation at Worldpark, a Spanish theme park modeled after Disney. Later, the terrorists strike at Rainbow itself with Clark's wife and pregnant daughter the intended targets.
Most of these events are connected to a conspiracy with worldwide ramifications, concocted not by some outlaw government but by the head of an American bio-technology corporation with a radical ecological agenda. Helping things along is an ex-KGB agent who has contacts with long-idled terrorists across the world.
The Ebola virus once again plays a major role in this diabolical plan of eco-terrorism, just as it did in Clancy's last novel, "Executive Orders." It seems as though the writer could have come up with a new dreaded disease for Rainbow.
And that's not the only place where originality is lacking. In fact, "Rainbow Six" seems to borrow a lot from James Bond. At one point Clark even introduces himself as "Clark, John Clark." The book also lacks much of the usual political context that give other Clancy novels their chilling authenticity.
Even so, "Rainbow" does raise relevant questions about the power of corporations today. Could it be possible for a massive company to destroy the world as we know it? And in stopping a plot of those proportions, would soldiers be forced to kill private citizens, thus committing what could be interpreted as murder?
But the scope of conspiracy is what sinks this tale.
"Is this for real?" one of Clark's subordinates asks him at one point.
Apparently, even the characters have trouble buying it.