The latest novel in Nelson DeMille's popular detective series is Wild Fire. For those of us that live around the NY metropolitan area, they are especially enjoyable because many of the locations are familiar to us. Before we get too ahead of ourselves, here is how we got to book four.
Plum Island is the best known of the series. We are introduced to John Corey, a soon to be retired NYPD detective. As he is recovering from an injury on Long Island's North Fork he ends up in the middle of a murder investigation. The trail leads him to Plum Island, a federal government animal disease research facility. We also meet Kate Mayfield, an FBI agent, and his future wife. Plum Island is a tight, compact novel with lots of action. After reading it, I never expected a sequel, but this was too compelling a character to not use in further works.
You can read an excerpt right here to experience it first hand.
The Lion's Game
In this follow up novel, John Corey is retired from the NYPD, and he puts his street smarts to work for the FBI's Anti Terrorism Task Force. This time we have a Libyan nationalist, "the lion" looking to settle an old score. In this lengthy work, we have a cross country game of cat and mouse. The Lion's Game also uses a Cussleresque (I think I just invented that word!) background story that contributes to the mystery and deepens the plot quite a bit. While not a casual read, it is a finely crafted thriller that really gets under the skin of an Islamic terrorist and those in pursuit. Notably, one of the scenes takes place at the Cradle of Aviation Museum on Long Island.
The longest book of the series gets followed by the shortest one. The plot of Night Fall centers around TWA Flight 800. Our detective looks into the events of that unfortunate plane crash which many hypothesize was not the accident that our government would like us to believe it is. It also looks at the plane crash from the standpoint of what follows on September 11th and as an initial attack in the still evolving terrorist war. In my view, Night Fall ends way too abruptly, but I believe that the author does that to mirror the sudden, and totally unexpected destruction that a terrorist attack results in, along with the senseless killing.
All of this brings us to Wild Fire, the fourth novel in the series. This time we've got our favorite detective out to save the world from a secret government plan known as Wild Fire. The idea is to keep the Islamic world from exploding a suitcase nuclear in the US by extending the Russian mutually assured destruction doctrine to the terrorist countries. Along the way, we get to play along as Corey, and his wife Mayfield get to unravel this conspiracy as they have to disobey orders, call in favors, bend the law and work with limited resources. Another of the novel's attractions is its use and explanation of some exotic technologies, like ELF (extremely low frequency) communication. When all of the finely crafted ingredients are mixed, what results is a cautionary tale in our new world order and we realize that geopolitical stability is built on a leaning house of cards in a breeze; it is tentative at best.
Throughout all of these plot driven novels, the character of John Corey is a standout of the literary world. He's the experienced and intelligent city detective that the common man admires. While he is disliked by his superiors, they ultimately have to respect his abilities. His definable characteristic is his wise cracking comments. Even when he stares death in the face, he never loses his sense of sanity and humor. The way DeMille consistently portrays this heroic character through a thick NYC accent, and the street smarts of a career cop make all of these novels very engaging and enjoyable.
If you're looking for a great journey, with a character who is really "one of the boys," than this series is one that is well worth spending some time on. I can only hope that there will be many more novels in this series.
Overall Grade: A