Monday, October 15, 2012

BOOK REVIEW: The Panther by Nelson DeMille

     Years ago I read The Gold Coast by Nelson DeMille; I wasn't impressed. While an interesting story, I thought it was too long and too slow. Since then, friends have pushed more from DeMille. I resisted. 
     Until now.
     I got my hands on an early copy of DeMille's latest novel, The Panther, released Tuesday October 16, 2012. It is the latest in the John Corey/Kate Mayfield series. The short version of this review: I can't believe I've missed the first five in the series. I have a lot of catching up to do!
     Of course, I've never given the short version of anything, so here is the rest:
     John and Kate are married, both working on the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force in New York City. John is an NYPD Detective, Kate an FBI Special Agent. The story is told from mostly in the first person from the point of view of John, a smart, reflective, witty, pain in the ass. The same qualities that make him a good investigator make him difficult to get along with and even more difficult to supervise. That, of course, makes a great story!
     In The Panther, John and Kate are given an assignment in Yemen: to arrest the terrorist responsible for the attack on the USS Cole. Well, "arrest" might not be the most accurate way to describe what the team is really supposed to do, but that is the official assignment.  They've been specially selected, since the American born and raised Panther would like to "arrest" John and Kate, too, to avenge the death of an al Qaeda terrorist that they were responsible for. The two are working with agents from myriad intelligence agencies on this mission: military, State Department, the CIA. All are hardened and experienced patriots, and all have secret agendas that are slowly revealed throughout the book. 

Nelson DeMille
    The book  includes loyalty, deception, betrayal, murder, and more, and that's just among the good guys!  Despite being over 6o0 pages, it is a page turner, helped along by fast dialogue and the laugh out loud wit of the protagonist. 
     I don't know if was DeMille's intent, but I felt Corey's distrust and cynicism, along with the methods used on their Panther hunt, was a critique on the War on Terror, or at least the way it's being fought.
     The Panther is more about the story than the characters. John Corey is a New York cop, and narrates as one would expect from a New York cop. Although he has depth so far as recognizing the danger of the mission, and that there is a good chance he'll be killed, he isn't complex. He knows what he knows and doesn't seem to worry much about what he doesn't. Even the private moments between John and Kate are light. But the danger of the mission always looms, and even reading from the safety of my home I was tense waiting for the surprise attack, ambush, or explosion that I felt was imminent.    
     The Panther is an excellent book that I'm confident will return Nelson DeMille to the Best Seller list. His other John Corey books are now on my read list, and I've even considered giving The Gold Coast a second read, thinking there must be something I missed! 

DeMille, Nelson. The PantherGrand Central Publishing (October 16, 2012). 
ISBN-13: 978-0446580847

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