The Lion, by Nelson DeMille, is a sequel to his 2000 blockbuster, The Lion’s Game. Though not a big fiction reader, I consider all of DeMille’s books to be like really flavorful chocolate in a sea of stale potatoe chips and bland diet sodas. This book is no exception. His protagonist, John Corey is a smart-ass, but competent, retired New York detective, who is currently working with the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force. (His employ with the task force is made more interesting for this reviewer who also worked a stint with this task force in Minneapolis.) Corey is humorously unmerciful in his treatment of the suited image of the FBI, but he is fair, in that, he presents the agents as individuals who can be exceptionally talented or can be stuffed-shirted blow-hards. Most of the agents he works with are of the talented variety, which is, in fact, an accurate portrayal. Corey is so taken by his FBI partner, Kate Mayfield, in The Lion’s Game, that she becomes Mrs Corey for the sequel. (The two are paired up as well in DeMille’s 2006 novel, Wild Fire.)
In, The Lion, Libyan terrorist Asad Khalil, (the Lion), is back with a vengence to complete what was left undone in his first visit to American, the land of the infidel. In addition to completing his initial agenda, he has now added John and Mrs Corey to his list of “better off dead.” The reader knows from, The Lion’s Game, that being on Khalil’s list is not something one can take lightly since Khalil is a deftly talented, well trained, if not natural, assasin.
Part of the appeal to these DeMille novels is his first-person narrator style of writing that allows Demille to establish his proganist’s character more completely and at the same time, allow the author’s wit and repartee to come alive through his protagonist. He uses this to his advantage in both the Lion novels and the John Sutter novels. The reader knows that the apple is not falling that far from the author’s tree.
Readers might consider the violence in The Lion to be gratuitious, and it is certainly plentiful and vividly described, but it matches the wanton malice the killer has for those he chooses to kill. DeMille’s writing style is vividly fluid, so the reader gets a sense of watching the action as it flows in front of him or her, like that of a feature film. I believe only one of DeMille’s novels, The General’s Daughter, has been adapted into movie form, but I would not be surprised to see others join the film format. In addition to the three John Corey novels; his two-book series, The Gold Coast and it’s later prequel, The Gate House, with protagonist lawyer, John Sutter, would also be amenable to film adaptation, and I expect that they will be in film form sooner or later.
This novel is made more relevant with the current civil uprising in Libya, and the mentally questionable responses by Moammar Gadhafi, who shares a role in the action of both Lion novels. I recomend this novel to all but the sqeamish who may be turned off by the well described but relevant violence.