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THE LION'S GAME
By Nelson Demille
Warner Books, January, 2000 (HC) $26.95
Reviewed by Rick McMahan
In an interview once, Nelson Demille said that he had not used the same character in a second or third book, because he didn't feel like the character had any more to say to him. With his latest book, THE LION'S GAME, he brings back John Corey, so maybe Demille's found a character who's not finished spinning a yarn. The wisecracking NYPD detective made his first appearance in PLUM ISLAND. In Corey's latest adventure, he has retired from the NYPD but is not content to stay in retirement. Instead, he has been hired as a member of the special FBI run Anti-Terrorist Task Force (ATTF).
The ATTF is supposed to go to JFK Airport to meet an inbound airplane. On board is a notorious terrorist who's agreed to defect to the West. Or so it seems. When the plane lands at JFK, all of the occupants, passengers and crew, are dead. The Libyan terrorist escapes, but not before he hits at the heart of the ATTF.
And that is only the beginning. It seems that this Libyan terrorist has brought his private holy war to the United States, and is on a killing spree of targets whose significance are classified far away in the black realm of American military operations.
THE LION'S GAME is well written, however, I found it hard to get into the rhythm of John Corey's wise-cracking humor this time. Unlike PLUM ISLAND which was told completely in first person from Corey's point of view, THE LION'S GAME alternates chapters point of view with Corey and the terrorist. Part of the unique appeal to PLUM ISLAND was Corey's narration. Yet that wise-cracking style takes a few chapters to get into the character's cadence and sense of humor. By alternating points of view, Demille didn't amplify the strong point of John Corey's narrative voice. In THE LION'S GAME, Demille has moved Corey's character more into the realm of thriller, moving two opposing forces towards each other.
Hopefully, in the next outing Demille will return Corey to his natural milieu.
My other criticism is that the majority of the book's action takes place not with the hero but with the terrorist and his murderous journey across the United States.
However, even with these personal criticisms of the book, THE LION'S GAME is a tremendous read. Once again Nelson Demille has come up with a unique plot idea with plenty of twists and turns, and employs the colorful character of John Corey, politically incorrect retired NYPD cop. I hope that Demille brings John Corey back for a third time.
Other titles by this author which have been reviewed include: THE GENERAL'S DAUGHTER and PLUM ISLAND.
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