Title:                  The Teeth of the Tiger

Author:                 Tom Clancy

Clancy, Tom (2003). The Teeth of the Tiger. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons

LCCN:    2003047125

PS3553.L245 T44 2003


Date Updated:  April 27, 2015

The following review is based largely on a review posted by Joe Hartlaub on BookReporter (January 23, 2011).

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 Forces.

But The Teeth Of The Tiger is 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 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 this book 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.

[There’s more to come—the next two books are a continuation of The Teeth of the TigerDead or Alive (2010) and Locked On (2012).]

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