Let me preface this by saying that I’m a huge fan of Nelson DeMille. I’ve read all his books, I subscribe to his newsletter, and I actively participate on his fan page on Facebook. I’ve sent him emails and he has corresponded with me. All that is left is for me to fly to New York and stand outside of his house and be arrested for stalking. Sometimes, I’m a sad man.
It all started with Charm School. I read it while I was enlisted in the Navy and stationed in Boston, MA. A buddy of mine was reading it and when he was done, I was bored, needed to occupy my mind with something other than military life, and picked it up. For those that do not know, Charm School is about a POW camp in Vietnam where American prisoners are being forced to teach Soviet agents how to be American. So much for not occupying my mind with all things military.
Anyway, I was hooked and started putting my meat hooks on everything DeMille wrote. I like to say that before DeMille there was no book worth reading. However, for those that know me well, or that read this blog, you know I’m lying. He is one of the most exciting, though.
DeMille’s books are thrillers with a touch of espionage, military insights, and law enforcement. He’s written about the mob, military police, Cold War Era drama, and murder. Everything that a growing boy needs, in my humble opinion. Then, in 1996, DeMille introduced his readers to John Corey in the novel Plum Island. All bets were off and he’s been scribbling John Corey novels at a rapid pace since.
Enter The Panther.
The Panther is DeMille’s latest edition to the John Corey saga. This marks book number six for Corey, and according to rumors, there are more to come. I’m on the fence with that rumor. Although I love the character, I’m also ready for something new.
John Corey is a former NYPD homicide detective, now medically retired and working for the Anti-Terrorist Task Force in New York City. He’s cocky, sarcastic, and one bad dude. His wife, Kate Mayfield, is an FBI agent and member of the Task Force. She thinks John is a neanderthal, but brilliant and not too hard on the eyes. They are often paired together during assignments, whether intentionally or not.
The Panther is the follow-up to The Lions Game and The Lion. Both books featured Corey battling a Libyan terrorist known as the Lion. It doesn’t end well for the terrorist. The Panther hits a little closer to home with an American born Yemeni terrorist responsible for the attack on the USS Cole. Since the demise of the Lion, Corey and Mayfield are the perfect choice to draw out the Panther in an attempt to capture or kill him. This, of course, does and does not sit well with Corey and Mayfield.
The majority of the story takes place in Yemen and despite DeMille’s inability to travel to the country, is described well in great detail. DeMille’s in-depth research of the region is evident in the narration, though sometimes to a fault. Hemingway would have cringed a few times during the read, being that he held fast to the “less is more” mantra of writing.
Middle East history and psychological break downs of terrorists aside, the Panther is a fine read with brilliant characters and gripping action. DeMille fans get an added bonus with the inclusion of Paul Brenner (The General’s Daughter and Up Country). Brenner is a nice touch. He adds some sexual tension that has been missing since Corey and Mayfield hitched their wagons together. Unfortunately, Brenner is also cocky, sarcastic, and one bad dude. It’s like having a story in the Bible with God’s two sons. One Jesus will do, thank you.
All that being said, the Panther is worth the price of admission. DeMille may have overdone it a couple of times and the ending may seem a little hurried, but he hasn’t lost his touch. Admittedly, the ending may seem hurried only because I didn’t want it to end. That’s a good thing, if you’re paying attention.
If you haven’t jumped on the John Corey bandwagon yet, start with Plum Island and go from there. I also suggest that you check out DeMille’s other works. He’s a great writer. Even his newsletters are entertaining.