The Hunt for Red October - the second part of the Jack Ryan series - was a slow moving story with a fantastic ending.
First let me sum up the plot. It begins with Captain Marko Ramius, perhaps one of Clancy's most developed characters, setting out to sea in the submarine Red October for his mother country, the USSR. However, Ramius has other ideas in his head. He promptly kills the Political Officer on his ship and then reveals his plan to defect to the United States to his top officers.
[Spoiler Alert] To make a long story short, Russia eventually figures out what has happened and sends their fleet after the Red October. They will not, however, admit to the US what has happened. Of course, our hero Jack Ryan, whom is at his best when he is still a part of the CIA as an analyst - before he becomes an overdeveloped political ham - figures out what has happened to the sub. He eventually tracks it down with the help of the US and British Governments. At the same time, Captain Ramius has a plan to make it seem like the submarine was destroyed with the commanding officers going down with it, before the regular crewman escape back to Russia. This is done partially so that the crewmembers will have not realized their commanding crew is traitorous. In reality, they prepare to let Jack Ryan board so they can ask him, officially, for asylum in the United States of America.
As it turns out, Jack Ryan is not the only American to figure out where the Red October was. The USS Dallas, under the command of Captain Bart Mancuso - with the aid of his sonar man Ron Jones (a.k.a. "Jonesy"), also tracks down Ramius. However, Jack Ryan is the only one who realizes Ramius is wanting to defect. In the end, Mancuso and some of his crew board the Red October, as well as Jack Ryan - who arrives first and separately (unlike the movie).
In the end, they grant Ramius asylum and take him back to the US.... but not before the Russian sub, the V.K. Konovalov, under command of Captain Tupelov (Ramius' former pupil), manages to track them down. This follows with a very easy to follow naval battle - that even I understood. [End Spoiler Alert]
This novel had a terrific plot - as you may have noticed. However, I left several minor sub-plots - that in effect - caused the story to become sluggish at certain points. Although the story as a whole is slow, the central plot is very captivating. Interestingly, the paperback only has 470 odd pages - easily Clancy's shortest novel.
In Red October, Jack Ryan is in his top form that we have come to expect. Ramius is a great character introduced - and a favorite of many; some of his crewmen are rather well developed also.
The only character development that lacked was the antagonist - Captain Tupelov of the V.K. Konovalov. Sure, it's fun to say, "Oh that evil Russia!" - its more enjoyable to focus on one man than an entire country.
I appreciated how Clancy subtly makes you anticipate the plot for his next Jack Ryan novel, The Cardinal of the Kremlin. Interestingly, he wrote Patriot Games - the prequel - first.
Though they still have not made a decent Tom Clancy movie yet, this is the closest they have come to it. Marko Ramius is played brilliantly by Sean Connery in the film adaptation. The actors of Jonesy and Mancuso played their parts extremely well as well. I would have liked to see Harrison Ford play Jack Ryan for the sake of continuity - although Alec Baldwin does an excellent job. [Technically, Ford came after Baldwin but I prefer the choice of Ford, although they both are great in their own ways.]
In the end, this is a novel that will stand the test of time and be captivating to the reader. Yes, not all chapters are page turners, but as a whole, you can not go wrong here!