Nelson DeMille fans will remember John Corey from "Plum Island" - the sarcastic NYPD homicide detective made an immediate impression on readers everywhere with his unique brand of cynical humour and intuitive leaps of deduction. And now Corey's back, on a case that once again promises to test his detective skills - and his patience - to the limit.
In "The Lion's Game", John Corey is no longer working for the NYPD, but for the ATTF, a joint anti-terrorist federal task force. Partnered with a team of agents - some of whom he dislikes and some of whom he plain hates - his first assignment involves meeting a plane at JFK Airport and escorting a notorious Libyan terrorist named Asad Khalil (the Lion of the book's title) off it. But as the team waits for the plane to land, it soon becomes obvious that all is not as it should be on the plane...and as the bodies start piling up around him, Corey is thrown headlong into a race against time to capture a terrorist who seems to be one step ahead of him all the time.
Now, you've seen this before - terrorists and the cops chasing them have been a staple of popular crime fiction for a while now (remember Tom Clancy's "The Sum Of All Fears") - but DeMille still succeeds in holding the reader's attention with his sharp, clean prose and his constantly shifting narrative viewpoint. In much of his story, he alternates chapters between Corey and Khalil, providing a dead-on character portrait of two very determined, very aggressive men on the charge. The back story DeMille's created for Khalil is also satisfying, going as it does to explain the terrorist's motives for murder.
While "The Lion's Game" isn't as intricate as "Plum Island", it's still a great read, and John Corey is still one of the most intriguing characters in modern crime fiction. In Corey, DeMille has created a character who is tough, resourceful, shrewd and very, very funny - Corey's asides and one-liners on everything from Arab terrorists to American pop culture will have you in splits, even as his tangles with the FBI, the CIA, his beautiful partner Kate Mayfield and other assorted miscreants will have you rooting for him to win. Of course, in the final tally, it's the reader who wins, and wins big - DeMille is an accomplished writer, and "The Lion's Game" showcases his storytelling talent at its best.This article was first published on 06 Nov 2000.