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03 March 2013

Nelson DeMille: The Lion's Game

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Nelson DeMille is one of my favourite authors and I am revisiting some of his books, which is giving me great pleasure. To my surprise I didn't realise that I had missed reading "The Lion's Game" when it was first released around 2000 - I got it mixed up with the more recent John Corey book "The Lion" when he takes on both the (same?) terrorist called The Lion and rogue elements at the CIA.

Corey retired from the NYPD after "Plum Island" but to combat boredom is now back in harness, amazingly with the FBI, which he always had problems dealing with in the past. This time he is a consultant with the Federal Anti-Terrorist Task Force in New York with the Middle Eastern section.

Corey is still at his wisecracking best which doesn't endear him to some colleagues, including initially his FBI "mentor" attractive, single agent Kate Mayfield. Corey soon bores of inactivity and applies to move to the IRA section in the hope of more action.

But more action than he needs comes his way when he waits at secure facilities at the airport for a Libyan defector, Asad Khalil who is being brought under FBI guard to the US for questioning. The Boeing 747 he is travelling in loses radio contact and lands automatically. Corey is one of the first to board the plane and finds over 300 people, including the pilots are have been gassed and the defector is missing.

Khalil (nickname "The Lion") escapes from the plane and goes on a trail of violence across the US in revenge for the death of most of his family in the bombing of Libya in 1986. Corey and Mayfield track down Khalil when others are sidetracked by a staged assassination suggesting that the Lion is in Germany.

This is a fast action and very believable terrorist thriller written before 9/11. The story swaps between Khalil's Libyan background and his US killing spree to Corey and Mayfield's chase to stop him (with a blossoming romance on the way).

All in all this is one of DeMille's best books and I am now searching the rest of his books to see if there are other gems that I have missed. Highly recommended.

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