Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Panther by Nelson DeMille

I have been a fan of Nelson DeMille's books featuring John Corey since I read the first one in the series. Corey's acerbic wit and humor sit well with the reader and DeMille usually delivers an action-packed adventure filled with intrigue, twists and turns, and red herrings.

Fresh off the biggest coup and exciting adventure of The Lion in which Corey and his wife, Kate Mayfield, have put away the terrorist leader, Asad Khalil, the duo are off to Yemen to avenge the sinking of the U.S.S. Cole by sniffing out another big cat, Bulus ibn al-Darwish, known as al-Numair, The Panther. Yemen is a cradle of terrorism and as DeMille colorfully remarks, "if the earth had an anus, it would be located in Yemen." With the PSO (Political Security Organization), the NSB (National Security Bureau) and Al-Qaida, chaos reigns and one who would intend to break through those agencies needs keen observation powers and survival instincts.

What ensues is a very long novel that builds unceasingly to a climax some 630 pages later. Unlike most of DeMille's previous novels, The Panther, is short on action and movement. It is packed with planning and groundwork. Corey and Mayfield are central characters to be sure, joined by Colonel Paul Brenner, another recurring DeMille persona. With some trepidation the two accept the assignment, but Corey has it in the back of his mind that he and Kate are really bait because of their involvement in killing a CIA operative. They travel in Yemen with a cadre of other high level officers and some native Yemenis who are willing to track down the Panther and his Al-Qaida band. The planning is intense, lightened only by the sarcastic remarks of Corey. Lack of alcohol has taken its toll on Corey. 

Substituting for the action to which the reader has become accustomed is a treatise on mid-eastern geography and politics and even some biblical history. Once the mission is fully engaged, the action picks up and comes to crashing end. There are some questions as to who is actually on the side of Corey and whether the CIA agents are aligned with him or against him as Corey prophesied. The conspiracy theory is never far from Corey's mind and his fast thinking and actions are well conceived. 

Although, this was not one of my favorite books, the last third of the book was exciting and fulfilling. It leaves the door open to a new Corey/Mayfield book that, hopefully, will be back in the mold and tradition of the first five DeMille books.