Tom Clancy's long-awaited novel has finally arrived, and fans will delight because it truly is vintage Clancy. For those who might have chafed at the Op Center series and wondered about tomorrow, you can now relax it is here. You won't, however, be able to relax for too long because Rainbow Six moves fast and furiously and keeps you in suspense from beginning to end. Rainbow Six is the story of an elite multinational task force formed to battle international terrorism hence the term rainbow. It has chosen the best people from several countries, all in tip-top physical shape. The leader of this special group is none other than ex-Navy SEAL John Clark, whom many will remember from other Clancy novels. And this time the man some Clancy fans call the dark side double of Jack Ryan really has his hands full.

The task force is stationed in England since the British have the location, infrastructure, and the security needed. On the first trip there, three men, apparently after a Spanish diplomat, attempt to hijack the team's commercial plane. Then, before the Rainbow team even settles into its new digs in England, they are called to help stop a bank robbery in Switzerland. An attempted kidnapping of an Austrian financier soon follows. And, as if that weren't enough, the team is confronted with a challenge at a theme park in Spain. It seems that a dozen or so terrorists have seized a group of children at the park and are threatening to kill them one at a time unless various demands are met, including release of prisoners held by France. The force then does its job as effectively as usual, but not without witnesses a great tragedy in the process.

But all is not simply guns and foes for Rainbow Six, for other things are going on that will ultimately impact its members. In New York, a group of homeless men is whisked off the street, and at least two women are kidnapped. And then there is a certain somebody who is entirely too curious about the presence of the Rainbow group in England.

This is simply a prelude to the next major challenge, one so great that it boggles the mind. This time the group must face a band of men and women so merciless and so extreme that nothing like it has confronted the world before. The success of this terrorist group would literally endanger life on earth as most know it.

Clancy admits this novel took a very long time to write, with each page taking as much as six hours to finish. He says it was well worth it you will most certainly agree.

Lloyd Armour is a retired newspaper editor.

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