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The Teeth of the Tiger
By Tom Clancy

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The Teeth of the Tiger

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The Teeth of the Tiger
By Tom Clancy
Thorndike Press - Large Print, (2003)
ISBN: 0-7862-5691-5
Genre: Thriller

Reviewed by Rochelle Caviness - October 24, 2003

Tom Clancy is back with a new generation of heroes that are willing to do whatever it takes to protect America. In The Teeth of the Tiger Clancy introduces John (Jack) Ryan Jr., and his cousins, fraternal twins Brian and Dominic Caruso to his fans. Jack Jr., is the son of the John Patrick Ryan, former president and hero of countless Clancy novels, including the acclaimed Hunt for Red October.

As the story opens, Jack Jr., is out looking for his first real job after finishing college, whereas the Caruso's are already intrenched in careers of their own. Brian is a seasoned Marine on the fast track for a command position, and Dominic is an FBI Special Agent. Cousins of Jack Jr., the three soon find themselves working for Hendley Associates. Known as "The Campus," Hendley Associates is a deep black undercover organization tasked with the job of tracking down and eliminating threats to the United States - including terrorists - by any means necessary, including assassination. Authorized by Ryan senior when he was president, those that work for The Campus are covered by blanket immunities - whatever they do they cannot be prosecuted.

The Caruso boys are hired to act as the 'teeth' of The Campus, carrying out targeted assassinations of known terrorist and their associates, whereas Jack Jr., is relegated for most of the book to simply pushing papers and gathering intelligence. Most of the book details the Caruso's training at the Campus and how Jack Jr., finagled his way into a job with Hendley Associates. The remainder of the book follows the Caruso's as they carry out a number of assassinations. Action sequences are sprinkled sporadically throughout the story, including a bloody sequence when the Caruso's have a shoot-out with a group of terrorists on a shooting spree in a Virginia mall. However, the tension never builds to the 'page-turning' quality that you'd expect from a Clancy book. In addition, Clancy never really convinces the reader that the Caruso's could have turned so quickly into cold-blooded assassins, although he does offer an explanation on why they adapt so readily to their new job. Worse, the story just ends, almost in mid-sentence.

Most of Clancy's books are much longer than The Teeth of the Tiger and I got the very distinct impression that The Teeth of the Tiger is the first part of a two-part story. If it is not a two-parter, the ending is overly abrupt and leaves the story hanging. While not one of Clancy's best books, it is entertaining and brings up several pivotal ethical issues. For example, how should the government deal with a terrorist when they 'know' he is about to carry out an action, yet they do not have the authority or proof necessary to bring criminal charges against him. Should they wait until he actually commits the crime - or stop him, by any means necessary, before he can kill anyone? The Teeth of the Tiger will also be essential reading if Clancy writes additional books featuring Jack Jr., or the Caruso brothers.


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