Tom Clancy - best known for works like Patriot Games, The Hunt for Red October, Clear and Present Danger and Rainbow Six - died aged 66 in a Baltimore hospital, according to several sources in the US.
The Baltimore Sun newspaper said on Wednesday that Clancy had died Tuesday "after a short illness" at the city's John Hopkins' hospital. New York Times journalist Julie Bosman wrote on Twitter that Clancy's publisher, G.P. Putnam's Sons, had confirmed the news.
"He was a thrill to work with," Bosman quoted Putnam's president, Ivan Held, as saying. In Clancy's case, no word other than thrill would seem to fit. Almost all the novels, and later video games, conceived by Clancy were high-octane military or espionage thrillers - starting in a Cold War backdrop and moving through to the present day.
Jack of all trades
A Baltimore native and insurance salesman in his early life, Tom Clancy became one of modern fiction's most famous names. He also made two more names - his repeat characters Jack Ryan and John Clark - arguably even more notorious than his own.
Either Ryan or Clark featured in all but two of the books solely written by Clancy, whose more recent novels were written in collaboration with various partners.
Ryan, born and raised in Baltimore like Clancy, is among the few fictitious people with a longer curriculum vitae than that of his real-life creator. Via the Marine Corps, time as a stockbroker, and years with the CIA, Ryan ultimately rises to serve two separate terms as US president in Clancy's various plotlines. The character has been played on the silver screen by Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford and Ben Affleck, with a further film starring Chris Pine (Jack Ryan: Shadow One) scheduled for release this year.
Clancy co-founded video game developer Red Storm entertainment in 1996 and later sold it to Ubisoft Entertainment. Several of the company's most famous releases - including the Rainbow Six, Ghost Recon and Splinter Cell series - bear Clancy's name.
A staunch supporter of the Republican party, Clancy was also a co-owner of the Baltimore Orioles baseball team.
msh/kms (AFP, AP, Reuters)