The Lion’s Game
by Nelson DeMille

John Corey, former NYPD detective and current member of the anti-terrorist task force (ATTF) has a rather straightforward task to complete on April 15th. He and his team are to take custody of a terrorist who has turned himself in and transfer the terrorist from LaGuardia airport to a federal facility in New York City. What could possibly go wrong?

Plenty can go wrong, of course. The terrorist, a Libyan named Asad Kahlil, makes quite a splash immediately upon arrival in he United States. Khalil quickly escapes and begins work toward his real mission – a mission that has been many years in the planning. John Corey and his team are a few steps behind Kahlil, and a great cat and mouse game begins. The lion begins to stalk his prey – and the prey have no idea they are being hunted until the very last moment.

The book moves back and forth between the viewpoints of John Corey and Asad Khalil, and also has flashbacks to Khalil’s adolescence. This allows DeMille an opportunity to let the reader inside the head of Khalil. We are able to understand why Kahlil acts the way he does – how his past and his country’s culture have shaped him as a man. We also get the opportunity to see how a major terrorist campaign is planned and carried out. Asad Khalil has revenge on his mind, and he has brought death to the “land of the infidels”.

John Corey and his sidekick, Kate Mayfield, are worthy adversaries for Khalil. Corey is a brilliant detective, but he rubs a lot of people the wrong way. He has some big problems with authority figures and also has a tendency to tell jokes that offend certain ethnic, religious, and gender groups. He has a tendency to operate outside the rules from time to time. Subtlety is not his stock in trade. These are some of the reasons why he is former NYPD, rather than active NYPD. Kate Mayfield, on the other hand, is the shining example of a by-the-books FBI agent. She, too, is a brilliant investigator, but she stays within the rules.

The synergy created by their partnership aids them greatly in working the case. They are a step behind Khalil out of the gate and have to play catch-up. However, they manage to muddle their way through bureaucratic red tape (and some folks who seem to be playing for a different team) and eventually figure out what Kahlil is up to and aggressively give chase in the latter portion of he book, culminating in a final, dramatic showdown.

* * *

I first encountered this book when I stumbled across the audio version in Barnes and Noble. I was about to take off on a solo trip from Illinois to New York State. The audio version of the book appealed to me for two main reasons. It was bargain priced, and it was 25 hours long. The book captivated me for the entire 25 hours.

Since that initial listening, I have listened to the audio version at least two more times, I have read the book twice, and I have listened to the abridged edition of the audio book. I don’t make a habit of overdosing on one particular book, so I obviously enjoy this book a lot. The Soap Boxers gives this book a rating of “freaking awesome”!

In my opinion, the abridged edition of the audio book falls fall short of the unabridged edition. They had to cut to book from 25 hours to 9, so obviously some of the plot had to be lost. However, I’m not a big fan of the way they made some of the cuts. Also, I much prefer the reading job done by Scott Brick on the unabridged edition to the job done by Boyd Gaines on the abridged edition. Gaines doesn’t really do anything wrong, but Brick is simply awesome.

Nelson Demille

The Lion’s Game – Book


Nelson Demille

The Lion’s Game – CD