Mystery thriller author Tom Clancy dead at 66
Tom Clancy, American writer and author best known for penning mystery thrillers like "The Hunt for Red October" and "Red Storm Rising," has died at 66.
Ivan Held, the president of Putnam Books which is an imprint of the Penguin Group (USA), confirmed to the NY Times that Clancy passed away Tuesday evening. The Baltimore Sun reports that the author died at Johns Hopkins Hospital after a "brief illness" though the exact cause of death remains unknown.
"He was a consummate author, creating the modern-day thriller, and was one of the most visionary storytellers of our time," David Shanks, Penguin Group (USA)'s executive, said Wednesday in a statement.
A Maryland resident who owned an interest in the Baltimore Orioles, Clancy was beloved for his engrossing military and espionage-centered works. According to his publisher, all of Clancy's books have hit the No. 1 spot on the Times' best-seller list. Clancy's publisher estimates that worldwide sales of the author's books top 100 million. The Associated Press calls him "the most widely read and influential military novelist of his time."
Clancy first landed on the coveted best-sellers' list in 1984 with "The Hunt for Red October," a book based on an actual incident that took place in Nov. 1979, where a Soviet missile ship called the Storozhevoy attempted to defect. Though the real-life story ended badly, Clancy's rendition of the defection resulted in a success.
The author credited President Reagan, who received "Red October" for Christmas one year, for catapulting the book to the Times' best-seller list. Reagan famously stated that he was "losing sleep" because he was so engrossed in Clancy's book.
Four of the prolific writer's novels, "The Hunt for Red October," ''Patriot Games," ''Clear and Present Danger," and "the Sum of All Fears," would later become hit movies. Actors who've portrayed Clancy's popular fictional character and hero, CIA agent Jack Ryan, include Harrison Ford, Alec Baldwin and Ben Affleck.
Ryan was first created in 1979 when Clancy started writing "Patriot Games." Up next to play the fictional hero is Chris Pine in "Jack Ryan," the fifth Clancy book to be turned into a film. The movie, directed by Kenneth Branagh and co-starring Kevin Costner and Keira Knightley, is slated for release on Christmas Day.
Clancy's upcoming book, "Command Authority," is set to hit shelves on Dec. 3. As of Wednesday afternoon, the copy ranked at a cool No. 40 on Amazon's best seller list.
He is survived by his second wife, Alexandra Maria Llewellyn, whom he met through Colin Powell in 1997.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.