Some reviewers of "popular fiction", which is what Nelson DeMille writes, compare it to better, more nuanced fiction, books that win all sorts of literary awards. And the "popular fiction" always comes out worse in the comparison. Sort of like comparing "War and Peace" with the latest Danielle Steel. Couldn't, shouldn't be done. I believe in comparing books like "The Lion", with other books the author has written. I mean, if you didn't like previous DeMille books, you probably wouldn't even be thinking of buying and reading this one.
So, I'm giving "The Lion" five stars because it compares favorably with previous DeMille novels, particularly his previous John Corey novels. Nelson DeMille seems to have a great fondness for smart-mouthed middle aged men named "John". He uses "John Corey" as the protagonist of this series of books, and "John Sutter" as the protagonist of the Long Island series of books. The "Johns" are basically interchangable; foul-mouthed, sexists, and fairly contemptuous of anybody with power.
"The Lion" is a sequel of "The Lion's Game", which was published right before the attacks of 9/11. This book takes place in 2003, the post-9/11 New York City. The same protagonists, John Corey - ex-NYPD and current FBI - and his by-now wife, FBI agent Kate Mayfield are back. The villain - possibly the meanest, cruelest, and nastiest since Hannibal Lector - is again in the US, to finish up his killing spree begun in the previous book. He is The Lion; a Libyan who was trained in terror killings by the KBG and is intent on killing anybody who was complicit in a bombing raid the US carried out against Libya in 1988, in which his entire family was killed. And killing any and all who tried to end his killing spree. Oh, and killing in the most grotesque ways possible. Garroting, face-peeling, and beheading are just a few of the Lion's favorite means of dispatch.
And this is why I am taking a star away from the five I originally gave "The Lion". Because I feel that Nelson DeMille "chickened out" in his story telling. So many people are killed in his book and he lets one of the characters - one of the main characters - survive a "Lion-attack" that by rights she shouldn't have. It makes the plot less believable. I would have admired DeMille's story-telling "chops" if he had allowed this character to die, but I think he was afraid to do so because it might upset the readers. You can argue that the survival of this character was intrinsic to the ensuing plot line, but I will say the plot line would have been stronger had the character died.
So, for that small but irritating bit of plotting, I am selfishly deducting a star from my review. However, "The Lion" is a good, fast read that most people, including me, will enjoy. John Corey is an interesting character and I'll look forward to another in the series.
on July 21, 2011
I love Nelson DeMille's novels. They have great plots, are fast-moving and are written with a rather cocky humour. The Lion is certainly up there among his best. Some of the bizaar tortures are a little on the extreme bloody side, but the rest of book is great. I cannot figure out why no one has made movies from DeMille's books.
on January 10, 2014
Really enjoyed this story. A lot better than Plum Island, and as good as the Lion's Game, Mayday and Nightfall. Kept me reading far past the point when I should have been sleeping! Never sure which characters will be killed or what is around the corner, not formula at all. Great!