Between the Lines: New Cold War stars in Tom Clancy’s final novel

The publishing industry and millions of readers worldwide were shocked to learn of military novelist Tom Clancy’s death (from still-undisclosed causes) on Oct. 1 at age 66.

As reported in the many obituaries and tributes at the time, Clancy was an insurance salesman and aspiring writer who loved naval history. He wrote and submitted the manuscript for “The Hunt For Red October” to the Naval Institute Press in Annapolis, Md. The press paid him $5,000 for the Cold War-era book and published it in 1994. It became an instant hit and was followed by 16 more best-sellers, four of which became movies. A fifth film, “Jack Ryan,” is due in January.

Recently released is Clancy’s last novel, “Command Authority” (Putnam, $29.95, 752 pages), which he finished shortly before his death, in collaboration with novelist-adventurer Mark Greaney.

Taking a new direction, the setting shifts from terrorism to old foe Russia. In one scene, Clancy’s go-to character Jack Ryan (former CIA agent and now American president), tells the other members of the super-secret intelligence group The Campus, “The KGB is back. Call it whatever the hell you want to call it, dress it up in designer suits and give it a Madison Avenue PR department, but it’s still the same old gang we all know and hate.”

A treacherous Vladimir Putin-type Russian president is bent on restoring Russia to its former power, and no nation had better stand in its way. A global conflict draws closer as operations grow more complex. This is classic Clancy storytelling, pitting the U.S. and its allies against “an unholy international alliance of corrupt government officials, outlaw intelligence agencies and brutal gangsters.”

Top names and titles

A number of other A-list authors have new titles now on shelves or coming up:

“Fear Nothing” by Lisa Gardner (Dutton, $27.95, 400 pages; on sale Jan. 7): Boston detective D.D. Warren is recovering from an attack at a crime scene, but she has no memory of just what happened. Now she must deal with a serial murderer known as the Rose Killer, and he (or she) is coming after D.D. The seventh title in the series.

“Robert B. Parker’s Bull River” by Robert Knott (Putnam, $26.95, 352 pages; Jan. 7): The late Parker (of “Spenser” fame) introduced Old West lawmen Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch in 2005’s “Appaloosa,” made into a 2008 movie with Ed Harris and Viggo Mortensen. Parker wrote three more Cole and Hitch novels before his death. Since then, several writers have kept three of Parker’s six series going, including Knott, who co-wrote the “Appaloosa” script with Harris. Knott isn’t Parker, of course, but the storytelling and action are tops.

“Innocence” by Dean Koontz (Bantam, $28, 352 pages): The mega-selling (450 million books in print) horrormeister combines urban fantasy and romance in a tale of two outcasts living in a violent dystopian society.

“Ripper” by Isabel Allende (Harper, $28.99, 496 pages; Jan. 28): Brilliant teenager Amanda of San Francisco fancies herself a sleuth, and puts her skills to work on a case that could involve a serial killer. When her mother vanishes, time is suddenly running out too quickly.

Sacramento in print

Our town has long been the subject of books in diverse genres, such as these:

Christopher J. Castaneda and Lee M.A. Simpson are professors of history at California State University, Sacramento, and partnered to edit “River City and Valley Life: An Environmental History of the Sacramento Region” (University of Pittsburgh Press, $27.95, 416 pages). Too often we overlook the history and transmogrification of our home city from rural to urban, and the accompanying consequences. This collection of erudite essays is a rich, revealing eye-opener.

“Sacramento Renaissance: Art, Music & Activism in California’s Capital City” by William Burg (History Press, $19.99, 192 pages): The historian includes oral histories and rare photos to show how the cultural side of our town has thrived.

“Sacramento & the Gold Country” by Christopher Arns (Avalon Travel, $16.99, 328 pages): This definitive resources guide is for locals and visitors alike, listing and commenting on lodging, art galleries, nightlife, restaurants, special events and much more.

“Dutch Flat Country” by Art Sommers (Art Sommers, $21.99, 139 pages): Informative text blocks supplement vintage photos in a nostalgic look at a half-dozen communities in Placer County.

Help with e-readers

As the e-world continues to evolve, navigation can be confusing and frustrating. To help demystify matters, the Sacramento Public Library continues to offer free hands-on training classes on the use of electronic readers and other e-devices, as well as e-books and audiobooks. To sign up, go to, click on “Upcoming Events,” and type “ereader” into the search box.

Also, the library is participating in a nationwide program called Library Simplified, whose goal is to “reduce the barriers that keep patrons from utilizing the services libraries offer,” including all things electronic. To that end, the library asks its patrons to take its version of a survey designed to improve the library experience for everyone. Go to

Travel expertise on tap

For decades, informed travelers have turned to Frommer guidebooks for information and navigation in cities around the world. They have founder Arthur Frommer to thank. Really, who hasn’t seen or heard about the classic “Europe on $5 a Day”?

His daughter, Pauline Frommer, is carrying on the family legacy at and with her award-winning “Pauline Frommer Guidebooks” series. Meet her at 7 p.m. Jan. 16 at Time Tested Books for a presentation and question-answer session. She’ll discuss the relaunch of the Frommer brand (with 30 new travel guides), and offer travel tips, trends and destinations for 2014.

The bookstore is at 1114 21st St., Sacramento; (916) 447-5696.


If you have information on author appearances or other book-related special events, email it to bookmarks@sacbee.comat least two weeks before the event. To read the online calendar, go to Questions? Call The Bee’s Allen Pierleoni, (916) 321-1128.