Review: The Lion's Game by Nelson Demille

Thursday, July 22, 2010


Brash, sassy John Corey is on the Anti-Terrorist Task Force team, waiting to meet Asad Khalil - a terrorist suspect who had defected. He waits with four others in the Conquistador Club, for the flight to land at the NY airport. Asad however has other plans, which do not include surrender. Although he was handcuffed and escorted by two armed officers, he manages to escape after committing a puzzling, almost impossible crime. Worse, no one knows what he is up to.

I have deliberately left out some things from the summary, because there is so much to this book than the plain escape of a terrorist. I have to admit, reading about terrorism is so not my cup of tea. So I was definitely pensive about what I will find, going into this book. I worried needlessly. The suspense in this book was simply awesome! Crimes that seem so impossible being pulled off with panache, making you wonder 'How did that happen?' I'm not big into thrillers, and usually pace them out but The Lion's Game reminded me of all the good books in this genre. It's not a 'whodunit' at all. We know the good guys and the bad guys right from page one. Instead, we have an old grudge simmering in a man bent on getting his revenge. And the methods he use! Much as I despised Asad for many reasons, I found myself understanding (not sympathizing) him better too.

The narration switches between John and Asad. Initially I waited for John's chapters for the laughs he provides, but I soon found Asad a compelling person as well. Compelling and psychologically interesting. It's not easy writing from the point of a person hell-bent on terrorism or murder. It's not easy reading either. You don't want to like the guy or feel sympathetic or understanding or even plain interested. So many things Asad did made my skin crawl. At times, I wondered what would have happened to me had I met him in the streets and recognized him, since he believes in erasing his tracks. His character became that alive for me - not in a creepy way but in a more in-this-world feel. And authors who create characters like that ought to be commended.

John Corey, on the other hand, is one heck of a guy. Hilarious sarcasm oozes off him. I was first introduced to him in Plum Island, and he is just as sassy as I remember him. I've saved some of his quotes for you.
Kate was wearing black slacks, by the way, and a sort of Heinz Ketchup-colored blazer over a white blouse. I was wearing what I wore yesterday.
She asked me, "What kind of clearance do you have?"
"About six foot, one inch. Sorry, old joke."  She wasn't smiling. I said, "Only confidential. Working on secret."
The Lion's Game is however 670+ pages long. It took me quite a long time to get through. While I didn't exactly mind it, I thought it was longer than needed by at least a 100-200 pages. Some of the dialogue could have been reduced even though they contributed to the story as a whole. But since John Corey contributed to quite a bit of those pages, I enjoyed them. Besides, it is fast-paced so I was barely aware of turning the page. If you haven't read a DeMille book, I strongly recommend him. This is my third book by him, and I can't seem to be getting enough of his books. The next book in the John Corey series and sequel to The Lion's Game - The Lion - has been released, and I sure can't wait to pick it up.


Check out this book published by Hachette Book Group @ Goodreads, BetterWorldBooks, Amazon, B&N.

I borrowed this book from my library.

6 comments:

Bibliophile By the Sea said...

I just picked up the audio from the library, as I love the John Corey character on audio...LOL

bermudaonion said...

I've got The Lion on audio and didn't realize this book preceded it. Now I want to read it first. Great review!

Emidy said...

This author sounds fantastic! And I love the suspensefulness of this book - it sound so addicting. Wonderful review, Aths! I've got to read this book sometime.

Marg said...

When I was younger I used to read DeMille constantly. I loved his books like The Charm School and The Cathedral, but I haven't read one in years. I really should try reading him again because I do have such fond memories of his books, and I don't read a lot of that style of book anymore.

Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com said...

"Barely aware of turning the pages?" Coool. I love when that happens.

Sheila (Bookjourney) said...

Oh fantastic review - I must read...