Like most everyone else here I enjoyed the first 2. Personally, I hate recurring characters in books - you know they will be surviving whatever impossible situation they seem to be in. For those of you that did enjoy Red Storm Rising, pick up the other books by Larry Bond. The technology is a little dated now, but they were fun books to read,
I just about lived in the Tom Clancy newsgroup on Usenet for much of the 1990s and early 2000s. I was writing my own technothriller and read pretty much the whole genre. The ng was a world-wide collection of mostly men, of many different backgrounds. We only infrequently talked about the books (after awhile they were beat to death), and, given it was unmoderated Usenet, most of the threads were about domestic politics, economics, geopolitics, and women.
Clancy lurked and sometimes came in to chat. I had a few exchanges with him from what I recall, especially in the Rainbow Six timeframe. The issue of his sources and methods came up a few times. I believe he said there, and has elsewhere, that he uses only open source material, but applies normal intel methods of piecing together stories from disparate scraps. He has said he was visited officially after HFRO to show his sources for some of the sonar detail. The visitors were satisfied with his retained notes on his sources and left him alone. I do know that some USN nuclear-trained officers were surprised at how much he was able to learn about the inner working of a cold-water accident in a submarine reactor, a sequence which appears in the climax of HFRO.
He had a very successful 1980s-1990s, and took a lot of pride at his sales records, at that time world records. JK Rowling has since far surpassed them, but for a time he was on top. His personal life took some twists and turns, and he had a major heart attack some time ago which derailed his production. He had a major launch in the past two years ( a "real" Clancy, not co-written), but it was a short-term blip. I think the novel scene has moved past what he has to offer. There were calls in the old days for him to try his hand at science fiction, but nothing ever came of it. Part of the problem these days with technothrillers is the lack of heavy-duty bad guys. The USSR was a credible opponent for the USA and NATO. When they went away you have your drug cartels and your terrorists, but it's hardly a fair fight if you're a technology whore and not a spycraft novelist. The plots IMO got both increasingly outlandish on the villain side and exposed, as others have said, the cardboard nature of his major characters on the softer side. If he had been hungrier I think he would have started new characters instead of taking Ryan and Clark to several times too many proms. But he hasn't been financially hungry since the 80s, writing is very hard work, and he has a new family and a new lease on life post-heart attack. I'll be interested to see if there is ever another novel from him.