Hearing of a friend or relative passing away, is sad news indeed. But when an author, football player or musician passes away and your feelings are filled with dread and sorrow, it can only mean that that particular person has touched your heart deeply.
Thus it was that I read of the passing of author Tom Clancy at 66 during my breaktime. Clancy has been a master writer of thrillers, espionage and war stories for many years.
His books have sold untold millions, been translated into hundreds of languages, and spin-offs from his weighty tomes, such as Rainbow Six, Ghost Recon and Splinter Cell have made it into the gaming industry with huge success.
Clancy has bought into vivid life the characters of Marko Ramius and Jack Ryan via Sean Connery and Alec Baldwin in the first book I read, ‘The Hunt for Red October’… 1984 I guess it was… Baldwin was later replaced by Harrison Ford in the amazing Patriot Games, three years on.
Since then, I had always purchased every new Tom Clancy book, waiting in suspense and searching for new novels religiously at my favourite book store, at Meli’s in Valletta.
I actually bought my first Clancy book at Meli. It was a compendium, a double-bill featuring Red October and Patriot Games… I still have that big thick book, and I fondly remember the pleasure it gave me in reading those two novels…
Sadly, book buying is no longer fun these days. Gone is the anticipation of slipping into Valletta and finding a rare gem, a book hitherto unheard of… I don’t even HAVE time to go to our city anymore, let alone browse for hours in a book-store. I just see a new book on Amazon, switch on my Kindle, make the purchase… and the book arrives in seconds. Gone is the thrill, the anticipation, the handling of your new book… replaced by an impersonal machine… admittedly, books no longer take many months to arrive here, and for me at least, the story takes precedence over the media anyway.
But I digress…. moving away from Clancy’s tribute. This particular author was very popular with the American forces stationed all over the world. His stories were always right on the dot, and this endeared him to them. Many times I wondered where he would get his inspiration for his titles, and while he meandered on his latest works, the early titles were absolutely amazing.
In order, my favourites are : Red October , Patriot Games , Clear and Present Danger , Sum of all Fears , Without Remorse , Debt of Honour , Executive Orders , The Bear and the Dragon, and Red Rabbit.
After the last book, in 2002, which featured a plan to kill Pope John Paul II, his writing strayed a lot, with too many sub-plots confusing the reader, and I have to admit that I strayed. However, the books I mentioned are simply unmissable.
Mr.Clancy… you have filled my imagination with such wonders that only you could conceive. I can only imagine how many happy hours I have whiled away reading your tales. Thank you.