Nelson DeMille has been pumping out high intensity thrillers for years. In the last few years, these thrillers have centred around action man and wise-cracking maverick John Corey. Starting with Plum Island, back in 1997, Corey has battled some of the most notorious middle-eastern terrorists, most with animal names – the Lion and the Leopard. Corey, looking for a break from all of this action, and on the nose with his superiors, opts for a ‘quiet end’ – taking a job with the Diplomatic Surveillance Group, charged with watching potential spies in and around New York.
By the time Corey’s first person narration begins, however, the reader knows there is trouble brewing. In a short prologue, a Russian diplomat, who is actually a member of the Russian secret service, has been given the green light to enact a nefarious plan, the details of which are unknown. Of course, it just so happens that this is the diplomat who Corey and his team have been tasked with following. So that when things start to go pear shaped, Corey is on the scene and ready to do what it takes to foil the plot.
Not a lot makes sense in this book. There is no cogent reason given for the Russians to want to put in place a plan that will lead to massive destruction and loss of life unless you accept that they are obviously nasty and that we shouldn’t forget the cold war because they haven’t. There is also no obvious reason for Corey to break protocol in such a way that he stumbles on the plot, except that he is just that kind of guy. But like its cinematic equivalents, this is probably a book where you should just leave the analytical part of your brain at the door.
The Russian plan itself is spectacularly complicated, but the reader is given plenty of insight into it through fairly tedious narrative that follows the Russians as they set the whole thing up. This complexity gives Corey plenty of time to figure it out and call in the troops who, of course, can't help him in time so he has to go it almost alone. But it also slows the pace of the book down to a crawl in some places. And knowing the plot in detail makes Corey’s leaps of logic, given the paucity of information at his disposal, look like nothing short of genius.
If you are a reader who has been following the exploits of John Corey over the past eight years and are keen for more then this may be the book for you. If not, then it might be time to find another thriller writer or dip back into DeMille’s extensive back catalogue, as most of these are better reads.