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Monday 21 January 2013

‘The Panther’ by Nelson Demille

Published by Sphere,
November 2012. 
ISBN: 978-1-84744-147-8

FBI agents John Corey and his wife Kate are assigned to Yemen to track down a high ranking Al Quaeda operative who is thought to be the mastermind behind several deaths, including the bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen several years before.  The terrorist operates under the title “the Panther” and John and Kate are ostensibly sent out to hunt and capture him, but John knows that this is only a front for an assassination operation.

He and his wife set forth, though it is felt under slight duress on his part as he has been to the Yemen before and knows that it will not be an easy job.  The sensitive political issues within the country mean that John and Kate don’t even know who their enemies are and even their friends (the CIA for example) can be dangerous.  Finding out who is on their side proves the challenge and John, well versed in the forked tongues of international conspiracy, is constantly questioning who to trust.

There is intrigue, double dealing, bangs and crashes and a little bit of romance and humour in the narrative which serves the storyline well. 

This book is over 600 pages long and whilst it is full of details about the Middle Eastern conflict, which could have been more lightly covered, it is not slow or in any way a chore to read.  The characters (especially that of John Corey, whose inner monologue is mostly entertaining if occasionally overdone) are quite nicely drawn in the writing and even the terrorists are not as two dimensional as is regularly the case for a thriller of this type. 

Blockbuster in size, but more intelligent in depth and storyline than is normal for this genre, this is a storming read and quite exhausting.  The narrative picks up pace in the last quarter and gallops towards a satisfying but still nicely open ending.  A good read, but, this is a heavy tome to carry around. 
Reviewer: Amanda Brown

Nelson Demille was born in New York City on August 23, 1943. He moved as a child with his family to Long Island. In high school, he played football and ran track. He spent three years at Hofstra University, then joined the Army and attended Officer Candidate School. He was a First Lieutenant in the United States Army (1966-69) and saw action as an infantry platoon leader with the First Cavalry Division in Vietnam. He was decorated with the Air Medal, Bronze Star, and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry.  Returning to the States he went back to Hofstra University where he received his degree in Political Science and History. He has three children, Lauren, Alexander, and James, and still lives on Long Island. DeMille's earlier books were NYPD detective novels. His first major novel was By the Rivers of Babylon, published in 1978 and is still in print, as are all his succeeding novels. He is a member of The Authors Guild, the Mystery Writers of America, and American Mensa. He holds three honorary doctorates: Doctor of Humane Letters from Hofstra University, Doctor of Literature from Long Island University, and Doctor of Humane Letters from Dowling College. He is the author of: By the Rivers of Babylon, Cathedral, The Talbot Odyssey, Word of Honor, The Charm School, The Gold Coast, The General's Daughter, Spencerville, Plum Island, The Lion's Game, Up Country, Night Fall, Wild Fire, The Gate House, The Lion and The Panther. He also co-authored Mayday with Thomas Block and has contributed short stories, book reviews, and articles to magazines and newspapers.

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