Book Review: Nelson DeMille’s The Lion’s Game

Posted January 24, 2013 by Kathy Davie in

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Nelson DeMille’s The Lion’s Game

The Lion's Game

It is part of the John Corey #2 series and is a on January 1, 2002 and has 720 pages.

Explore it on Goodreads or Amazon.

Other books in this series include MatchUp

Second in the John Corey suspense series revolving around a former NYPD detective. This story takes place before the Twin Towers and after the World Trade Center bombing and TWA 800.

My Take

This one was depressing. Oh, Corey is just as snarky as ever…thank god. I do enjoy his brand of humor. You’ll crack up at his explanation for why the feds created the ATTF. Critical points like pastrami sandwiches play a huge role. I must say, though, that I can understand why those around him sometimes — most of the time — want to bash his head in!

I also enjoy how he manages to bash his way through to success! There’s a lot to be said for ignoring protocol and procedure. Certainly a lot of lives were saved by doing so. It’s a treat to encounter a character who is more concerned with the reality of the mission rather than simply the theory. Makes me wish that more politicians and politicos truly did represent the people. And that the CIA had compassion!

The depressing part is religion. Extremists. While the rabid antagonist in this story is a Libyan Muslim mujahideen, his type is found in any religion. The fanatical zealot who twists and turns his religion to suit his particular thoughts and desires. Who sees nothing wrong with destroying anyone and everyone. The same idiotic morons who excuse their “sins” by blaming it on women. Hmmm, sounds like men’s excuses for raping, too.

The major religions in the world all have at their central core to do unto others what they would wish done unto themselves, so it totally screws with my mind when a religion’s basic tenets are twisted around.

Hmmm, does this mean the extremists want to be shot, blown up, destroyed? I mean, do unto others…

I think that Asad is psychotic anyway, considering his treatment of Bahira. Of course, it doesn’t help Asad that the man who influenced his upbringing, his life, was a nutcase himself. More concerned with his particular desires than caring for his people.

I think Boris is right. Eventually, I hope, Muslim women who are being repressed by their idiot men are going to rise up. Reading about Asad’s views about women, I want to kill him. He’s such a moron! Not to mention a hypocrite.

Ya know, if the CIA is gonna tattoo dots on a defector, why not implant a homing device along with it? That way, when Asad goes on his cross-country killing spree, maybe we could have stopped him earlier. Or, then again, if there had been true inter-agency cooperation…

Crack me up…John’s description of his dream where he solves it all…and then wakes up. It’s his metaphor for the frustration that is too funny.

Okay, the whole marriage thing just doesn’t work for me. It’s too fast. It doesn’t make sense. I kept expecting it to fall apart what with all the demerits, but then again, there’s those moments when “the panic was suddenly gone, and this weird feeling of peace flooded over me”. Of course, I also expected Kate to back out, especially after events in California.

The Story

John is missing the action of law enforcement, of making a difference, and Dom has come up with a way for John to become involved again. Only, he’s still being punished. Yup, he has to work with the CIA and FBI. Even worse, Ted Nash and George Foster requested him!

When a major terrorist incident occurs, it’s John’s insight, street smarts, and stubborn determination that sets the ATTF on the right path.

The Characters

John Corey had taken a three-quarter disability and a professorship at John Jay College of Criminal Justice after Plum Island, but it wasn’t enough. Now he’s a Special Contract Agent for the ATTF. He’s sarcastic, politically INcorrect, and doesn’t know when to stop. Corey is currently seeing Detective Beth Penrose of the Suffolk County Homicide Division. Dom Fanelli was Corey’s NYPD partner.

Federal Anti-Terrorist Task Force (ATTF)
ATTF is a combination of NYPD, CIA, FBI, ATF, and DEA. Ted Nash is a CIA agent and a major jerk. George Foster is FBI and while he’s a nice guy, he’s a little too indoctrinated. Both men were involved in the Plum Island incident. Nick Monti is NYPD Intelligence. Kate Mayfield is FBI. Or as John puts it: WASP, WASP, WOP, WASP. Jack Koenig, a.k.a., King Jack, is the Special-Agent-in-Charge in NYC while Captain David Stein represents the NYPD and is co-commander of the ATTF in NY. Special Agent Alan Parker is the PR guy fascinated by his one-third, one-third, maybe-third. Robert Moody is the NYPD Chief of Detectives; Captain Henry Wydrzynski is Deputy Chief of Detectives with the Port Authority police; Sergeant Gabriel Haytham is an Arab; and, Edward Harris is CIA.

Professor Abbah Ibn Abdellah is the FBI’s Muslim expert with interesting points to be made about Islam. Naturally, the news prefers to tell us about all the negatives, so we never learn the good side of Islam. It’s too bad the extremists exist and are so active…

Roger, Kim, Edie, Scott, and Chuck are agents on the ground in California. Doug Sturgis is the SA-in-C in LA and a former lover of Kate’s.

Secret Service
Gene Barlet is head of Reagan’s protective detail. Fred Potter is one of the agents.

New York Air Traffic Control
Sam Walters first raises the NO-RAD alert and his boss, Bob Esching, passes it on to Ed Stavros who pulls in Guns and Hoses, er, I mean, Port Authority-Emergency Service personnel. One Sergeant Tintle who also possesses that cop snark, *giggle*. Crew Chief Sergeant Andy McGill is the guy who gets on the plane.

The bomb squadron
Lieutenant Chip Wiggins, Weapon Systems Officer (a.k.a., wizo), has since acquired his pilot’s license and flies for a cargo service. Bill Satherwaite, the pilot has really gone downhill — and we don’t learn why. Now-General Terry Waycliff, pilot, and now-Colonel Bill Hambrecht, wizo, are in Remit 22; Bob Callum, pilot, and Steve Cox, wizo, in Remit 61; and, Paul Grey, pilot, and Jim McCoy, wizo, in Elton 38.

Stacy Moll is one of several private pilots Asad uses.

The Libyans and associates
Asad Khalil lost his family in the bombing attack on Al Azziziyah. Great Leader Moammar Gadhafi rules Libya with a religious fist. Malik spied, at the same time, for the Americans, Germans, and Italians during World War II, setting each up against the other. Now he’s teaching young terrorists in Libya. Yusef Haddad contributed his all to the initial attack in this story. Boris is former KGB and now instructs Libyan extremists about American culture.

Gamal Jabbar is a Libyan taxi driver in NYC. Karim Khalil is Asad’s father. Was, rather. He was murdered in Paris. Boutros Dharr paved the way. Azim Rahman is another driver in LA.

The Cover and Title

The cover is a deep royal blue with the author’s name writ large in silver and a much smaller title in yellow. The graphic is a metaphor for the antagonist and the story’s introduction: a black lion rampant on the tail of a plane.

The title gives it all away for it is The Lion’s Game, and we’re losing.