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The Spy Who Jumped Off the Screen: A Novel Hardcover – January 10, 2012

44 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews Review

Amazon Best Books of the Month, January 2012: Soldier turned actor Ty Hunter craves nothing more than some R&R after his latest Hollywood blockbuster…until he’s tasked with thwarting a potential nuclear arms deal. Using his celebrity sway and former training, Hunter goes undercover within a wealthy, powerful inner circle in search of a rogue. A sketchy businessman with Russian dealings and a megalomaniac ‘collector’ of riches top the list of suspects, while Isabella Cavill, a jewelry maker for foreign and often questionable clients, is a charming, if not entirely trustworthy, love interest. Hunter struggles to come to terms with a violent military past in order to complete the job, and his reluctance adds to his heroic charm. Stylish and smooth, Hunter is a protagonist reminiscent of James Bond-era machismo, where sophistication reigns supreme.

Bill Clinton pens the introduction, and author Thomas Caplan writes with decisive, well-paced prose. Part spy thriller, part Hollywood dazzler, The Spy Who Jumped Off the Screen is a satisfying and fun intrigue story. --Heather Dileepan

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Caplan takes a long time between novels (his last, Grace and Favor, was published in 1998), but this one was definitely worth the wait. It has a kick-ass premise. Ty Hunter, once an intelligence officer and now a major movie star (it’s a lot more plausible than it sounds), is tasked by the U.S. president to find out whether billionaire Ian Santel has anything to do with some nukes stolen by a now-deceased Russian colonel. The novel boasts great, James Bond–style supporting characters—the colorful Santel; his alluring goddaughter, Isabella Cavill, who designs expensive jewelry and seems to have designs on Ty; Santel’s protégé and henchman, Philip Frost. And it has a story that, with its action and intrigue, is guaranteed to keep readers glued to their seats. This is the kind of novel that the superb Trevanian might have written; his Jonathan Hemlock, art professor, mountaineer, and assassin, is surely no more nor less imaginatively conceived and executed than Ty Hunter. An excellent, don’t-dare-miss-it kind of thriller. --David Pitt

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Viking; First Edition edition (January 10, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670023213
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670023219
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 2.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,461,218 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

THOMAS CAPLAN is a graduate of the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service and has an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School. In addition to THE SPY WHO JUMPED OFF THE SCREEN, he is the author of three novels: Line of Chance; Parallelogram; and Grace and Favor. He was a founder and former Chairman of the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction and is currently board member emeritus of the PEN/Faulkner Foundation, which is based at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C. He lives on the Eastern Shore of Maryland and travels frequently abroad, especially to England.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 35 people found the following review helpful By M. D. HEALY on January 15, 2012
Format: Hardcover
According to both the intro by Bill Clinton and the NPR interview with the author that led me to buy a copy, President Clinton tightened up an early draft. From which I suspect that draft must have suffered from the same problem as I constantly need to fight in my own technical writing: an attachment to fascinating details that were learned in doing the research. For my own prose, I must constantly ask myself: what do my colleagues need to know in order to advance their own research? For a thrilller, the author should constantly ask himself or herself: what do my readers need to know either to advance the plot or understand the characters? And which details should be left out, not because tbey are unimportant in general but because they do not fit this technical report or this novel.

Caplan has a brilliantly original concept for his main character, a serviceable if less original plot (stop the sale of old Soviet nukes), and clearly did considerable research on the technical details required to make such a plot believable. His research into such details was much better than the average thriller. I'm no expert on military technologies or espionage, I am a civilian scientist, but I do have a pretty good idea what is and is not feasible within the current state of the art of computer and aerospace technology. At some point while reading the average techno-thriller or watching the average action movie, I become irritated by the number of details that betray the writer's limited grasp of what really is feasible. At no point in reading this novel did I exclaim to myself "but it could not work that way!" Caplan must have done an unusually thorough job of research for me to get through an entire novel without being annoyed by tech blunders.
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35 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Susan Tunis on January 15, 2012
Format: Hardcover
It's not every day that you see a thriller introduced by a former President of the United States, but Bill Clinton does exactly that for his old college pal "Tommy" Caplan. Unfortunately, President Clinton's introduction is the most interesting and well-written part of the book. The Spy Who Jumped Off the Screen was not worthy of his attention.

It's the story of a nasty duo who are putting together a deal to broker three decommissioned Soviet nukes to the highest bidders. The high-concept twist is that POTUS conscripts a top Hollywood star to go undercover on the trail of the nukes, figuring only someone like Ty Hunter can gain access to the yacht of the mega-wealthy bad guy. Full disclosure: Ty Hunter is everything I hate in a protagonist. When the President and one of his advisors approaches Ty about going under cover, the conversation goes like this:

"Me? I'm an actor."
"Don't be disingenuous," Kenneth said. "You're much more than an actor, and you know it."
"When you were a mere second lieutenant, in the army and attached to Task Force 508," the President asked, "what were you then? You were a commando in an oiled-cotton sweater who possessed every martial arts skill known to man."
"Not every," Ty said.
"You spoke Mandarin and Arabic and Spanish with a fluency that made you indistinguishable from any native."

And so forth. OMG, it's a bird, it's a plane, it's Ty Hunter, box-office superstar! I mean, I'm sorry, but is there anything remotely realistic about that character? Or interesting? And for a guy about whom it is repeatedly asserted he is looking for love, he sure seems to be prepared to hop into bed with any number of beautiful women. I absolutely detested the "romantic" sub-plot of this novel.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By eric hobson on April 30, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I love to read action and spy novels. However this was soooo slow that it literally put me to sleep. I like to read for an hour before going to sleep, but this book had me falling asleep within minutes of picking it up. I normally finish a book of this size in 3 - 4 days, this took me 2+ weeks to finish. I even fell asleep during the final action scene. Bill Clinton may be a college buddy of the author and helped him with editing the manuscript, but the author would have bee better off with a real editor.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By J. J. McInerney on December 18, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I dub thee, Ty Hunter, heroic protagonist of this novel, Thomas Caplan's fourth "Sir So-So Spy", because you don't quite live up to the hyped potential of your stunningly handsome Hollywood face and macho military training so cunningly and expertly described in this spy vs. spy novel. Sorry, but while the convincingly complex and sprawling plot line penned with a quirky, jarring writing style does have intriguingly exciting moments, James Bond you are not. Not even when you easily wily-woo devastatingly beautiful Isabella Cavill from the supposed, villiany love of her life as you pose undercover on her godfather's sumptuous yacht, the "Surpass", the most interesting character in the book.

Okay, you can sit there smugly satisfied on a plush leather seat of the Quiet Supersonic Transport as you fly Mach 1.5 over the North Pole on your way to dinner with the President after your hard day's spine-tingling adventure saving the world from mass destruction. But what did all that brushing with certain death get you? Fame and fortune, which you already have? World recognition? And I knew from the very start that you'd win the girl. Trite formulaics. If this was a true-to-life-story, maybe you'd get my undying thanks and gratitude. Maybe not.

So, Mr. Sir So-So Spy, at least I had the opportunity to meet you. My hero. [Long sigh] Meh.

There's a tip: If there's a sequel for you to star in again, make sure Caplan gives you more credibility and less shallowness. I mean, while you had your rare, infrequent somewhat engaging cannot-put-it-down moments, you come off as a wimp in the first two-thirds. It wasn't until the last 100 pages that you masterfully took control and (finally!) stood up to save the day.
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