Without Remorse by Tom Clancy

Missile shots light up night sky
Sky above the POW camp

In Without Remorse, Tom Clancy trots out the hero of several earlier novels, John Kelly, in a story that mixes military action with mafia action.

Kelly’s wife was accidentally killed in a previous novel and he is still numb when he gives young hitchhiker a lift. Pam restarts his sex drive, and Kelly helps her shake her drug habit. After Pam is brutally killed by drug dealers, Kelly goes ape, hunting the men responsible. He’s efficient and brutal.

Meanwhile the Pentagon is preparing to rescue prisoners in a POW camp in terrain Kelly knows well. They recruit him to lead the rescue.

An idealistic peacenik in a federal government position leaks the plans. As troops prepare to attack, Kelly has to abort the rescue. Although his mission failed, Kelly has caught the eye of powerful people the federal government who want to use his expertise.

Before he can decide whether to take them up on their offer, he has some more drug dealers he kills without remorse.

Clancy fills pages with caricatures and pushes them through the novel on an express train powered by hostility. The story is a page-turner without a hero. Clancy may be useful to the military, but he hasn’t the moral sense to be a role model.

Without Remorse by Tom Clancy
G. P. Putman. ©1993. 639 p.
1993 bestseller #4; my grade: B

©2020 Linda G. Aragoni

The Fountain Not Your Standard POW Novel

Holland view with cows in foreground, castle in background

In January 1915, a small group of English naval officers are imprisoned in a Dutch castle. Lewis Alison is greedy for the isolation. He wants to write a book about the contemplative life.

Living on a nearby estate is Julie Narwitz, daughter of a client of Alison’s London publishing firm, whom he remembers as a lovely child. She married a German, who sent her to her mother, who is the second wife of Baron Van Leyden.

The Dutch let the officers out on parole for the duration. The Baron invites Alison to use the castle library, which has a seldom-used connection to Julie’s bedroom.

When Narwitz is invalided out of Germany, their mutual interest in contemplation leads Alison and Narwitz to a deep friendship. When Narwitz finally figures out that Alison and Julie had been having an affair, the knowledge destroys his will to live.

After Narwitz’s death, the two must decide whether their love can survive marriage.

Charles Morgan has all the ingredients for a first-rate novel, but The Fountain reads like a screenplay. Readers have to mentally cast it and stage it. In the end, they come away wondering if they caught the author’s intention or wrote their own script.

The Fountain
Charles Morgan
Alfred A. Knopf, 1932
448 pages
1932 bestseller #2
My grade: B-

Photo credit: “Holland View” uploaded by wick01 http://www.sxc.hu/photo/944298

© 2012 Linda Gorton Aragoni