Book Review: Nelson DeMille’s The Panther

Posted November 11, 2014 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews

I received this book for free from the library 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 Panther

The Panther


Nelson DeMille

It is part of the John Corey #6 series and is a suspense on October 16, 2012 and has 640 pages.

Explore it on Goodreads or Amazon.

Other books in this series include MatchUp

Other books by this author which I have reviewed include Night Fall

Sixth in the John Corey suspense series and revolving around a former NYPD detective-turned-FBI-contract-agent. John and Kate go to Yemen!

I suggest reading at least Wild Fire, 4, before starting this one, as there are so many references that lead back to it and there are critical decisions based upon actions in that story.

My Take

I’m starting to sense a pattern here. And I really don’t know why it took so long…duh…it all revolves around terrorists. I know, duhhh *grin*. Another pattern is that bad guys always seem to slip that trap. Should be interesting to see what happens in book 7.

John is more than his usual snarky self and doesn’t seem to deduce as much in this one. He does have it when it counts though, and his reasoning keeps several people alive.

A well-balanced detective has a chip on both shoulders…”

This whole “need to know” crap is just that, crap. Why not tell them the whole plan so they can be prepared? Sacrificing all those people… How is the government or the CIA any different from the terrorists? I like John’s point that the cops tell each other (at least compared to the Feds) everything you need to know, ’cause, hey, you need to know. That cocktail party at the embassy brings it home. Here they’re all on the same side, and no one knows what the right or the left hand is doing.

God, Kate can be amazingly naive. As for John not telling her? Puh-lease, she’d’a never believed him. I do suspect Kate may pay more attention to John’s pronouncements about safety when they get back, for this is definitely an Operation Clean Sweep.

…lies are like cockroaches — if you see one, there are more.

Part of Buck’s awareness is explaining how Yemen is a shifting mess of alliances where you won’t know who’s got your back from minute to minute. And Corey reckons it’s a lot like 26 Federal Plaza.

Agent Al-Rasul reckons American-born Muslims go over to the terrorists because they hate the U.S. a touch more than they hate themselves or their corrupt Muslim governments. He also points out that Islam began as a military conquest with a period of enlightenment. Now Islam is heading backwards. Wouldn’t it be cheaper for us to come up with oil alternatives? Leave the terrorists with their homelands and just ignore them? They could have what they want, all by themselves. And we could have what we want, and it’d be safer for the planet. Do we really need more money than God?

All we need are a few more leaders like The Panther…’cause Zuhair makes some excellent points about his abilities. Altair isn’t too thrilled either, and he has good points to make as well. It’s all greed with these people. Yeah, I’m including the Americans in this as well as the terrorists, who can claim all they like that it’s for their religion, but it’s always been about power and greed for both sides.

Made me a little nuts with all the let’s not golet’s go back-and-forth.

I gotta admit, I do agree with The Panther that I do think people who immigrate to America should come to love it. It’s a great place to live. If you don’t like it, go home. Nobody’s forcing you to stay.

Small tidbits of historical and biblical events are dropped in.

It sounds like the Yemeni government is the Keystone Kops personified. Wouldn’t it be nice if leaders paid more attention to their people than their own ambitions? Sounds like it could apply to any country, doesn’t it? Then there’s Brenner’s take on the Yemeni, and it sure sounds like most of Africa. The people are loyal to family and tribe first.

Ooh, another telling point. Brenner’s comment has John thinking about fortress-prisons throughout history…that most of them are museums or attractions now. In civilized countries. And, yes, I do have an American-biased definition of civilized. It’s one in which people are free to disagree, to walk or drive where they please, to take the jobs they desire, to dress as they please, to worship as they please, to appreciate ancient cultures, ahem…

Yeah, I’m curious too. How does Al Qaeda attract middle-class boys? What is wrong with our system that they would want to subject themselves to those conditions? DeMille/Chet does point out that many Muslim-Americans return to their countries and do good as well. Good point from John on why physical torture ain’t the way.

John is complaining that Hakim is listening to the interrogation and he’ll learn the direction the Americans want to go, but isn’t that the idea? Lots of lawyer jokes as everyone tries to deal with the stupidity coming out of Washington. Some scary forewarnings in this.

I l-o-v-e those Predators…! Woohoo.

As much as The Panther hates Americans, he sure thinks like one. Or, rather, he thinks like an American politician. Sending everyone else out to die while he hangs back to see which way things go. Shoving blame off onto others. Betraying his own.

Jesus, after that scene, Altair says they’re civilized…in what universe?

Maybe if the Yemeni Army knew what their lives would be like under Al Qaeda they’d be more interested in actually doing their jobs. I also think they should have swapped: Sheikh Musa for the president.

Hey, the modest bathing suits are more practical than I expected, lol.

Sounds like being PC can kill ya’ as those idiots in Washington figured out when their new rules allowed a tiny boat to damage a warship.

Interesting comment by Zamo that “guys like these are hard to the core. They live, eat, and breathe war”. Forget about this story’s context. What other stories or events from history might you have read that depict men like this? Romantic suspense? Black Ops? Knights? Sounds like going back to the roots of civilization when hard men were needed. So what’s changed for us now that such men in western countries are more the topic of a romance novel? And how could that be introduced into the Mideast…hmmm…

It breaks my heart when I think of what a flourishing civilization the Middle East was a few thousand years ago.

The Story

Seems someone wants to get rid of John and sending him with his wife back to Yemen may do that. John is to reprise his role on the Cole Response Team (ERT) while Kate will become the new legate, a legal attachée. The fate of their careers is a little extortion to push it through.

The Panther has his own goals and is rooted in his own ego.

The Characters

Detective John Corey is stubborn and recalcitrant as part of his innate nature. Retired on a disability from the NYPD, he accepted a contract with the Anti-Terrorist Task Force (ATTF) in New York. His wife, Special Agent Kate Mayfield, is a lawyer and part of the task force. I sure wish we’d learn more about what she thinks about John, other than her asides… Kate’s father is retired FBI and her parents live in Minnesota. Robin is John’s ex, a high-priced criminal defense lawyer.

Buckminster Fuller is with State Department Intelligence and the instructor for cultural awareness. John “Zamo” Zamoiski is an army sniper who will travel with them to Aden. Chet Morgan is the fifth man, their CIA contact. And he’s whacked.

Yemen is…

…a Middle Eastern country with Sana’a as its capital. Alil Abdullah Saleh is Yemen’s dictator-president. Hussein al-Houthi is a tribal leader who wants to recreate a fundamentalist state and is active in the north; Al Qaeda has taken the south and east, although they share the south with separatist rebels; the west is infested with pirates; and, sandwiched in between all this are the tribal warlords of whom Sheikh Musa, who runs the area around Marib and sells service and products to whoever pays, is one. Yasir is one of his men and very Yemeni. None of whom you can trust for a moment.

The National Security Bureau are…
…the ones in blue whose mission is to protect oil fields, oil field workers, tourists at historical sites, and patrol the main roads. You’ll be charged for any service they say they’ll render. Don’t count on it. It’s a branch of the PSO. Captain Dammaj is in charge of the mob on the road.

The Political Security Organization (PSO) is…
…an internal political security force. Commonly known throughout the Mideast as Mukhabarat (think KGB or Gestapo). Colonel Hakim is a major jerk with a brief to watch the embassy. Dr. Fahd “cares” for the prisoners at Ghumdan Fortress. Sammy is the interpreter. Rahim ibn Hayyam is the idiot of a prisoner. Yeah, I feel sorry for him too, but John’s also right.

The publicly acknowledged bad guys
Bulus ibn al-Darwish, a.k.a., al-Numair, a.k.a., The Panther, a.k.a., al Amriki, a.k.a., Paul, is part of Al Qaeda and credited with lots of nastiness. In this story, The Panther is living in a maghara, a cave, with a woman. Hana is the sister who has disowned him while his mother, Sabria, is a housewife, and his father, Jurji, is a successful businessman in New Jersey. And I gotta say, they have a lot of chutzpah.

Nabeel al-Samad approaches Corey in New York and is one of The Panther’s aides. Two officers from the defeated Army of Iraq: Behaddin Zuhair, a former captain, and Lieutenant Sayid al-Rashid, who will be his second-in-command on the Hunt Oil attack, are not impressed with The Panther. Altair al-Darwish is his most senior aide and will seek his own martyrdom; Jawad is another senior aide.

The Al Qaeda Supreme Council has put John and Kate’s names on their assassination list.

The embassy in Sana’a
Paul Brenner is almost as snarky as John and having too much fun. He’s also with the Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) working for the State Department to keep American Embassy personnel safe. Cynthia is his girlfriend and is Army, CID. I love the T-shirt Brenner is wearing when he meets John! “Federal Prisoner”…! Brenner has a nice background. I hope we eventually learn the reason for the early retirement. Mohammed is his driver. Howard Fensterman will be Kate’s boss — the real legal attaché. Ed Peters is both the nondenominational preacher and the chief of DSS. Colonel Drew Kent is the Military Intelligence officer, U.S. Army. I suspect his thoughts on what’s best for Yemen are probably right.

Edward James Hull is the ambassador who just left. Lucky dog. Barbara Bodine was the ambassadress when the U.S.S. Cole was bombed. Why would the U.S. send a woman to represent them when they know how Yemeni men feel about women?

Dr. Clare Nolan is the medic who travels with them to Aden. Mike Cassidy will drive Clare and John to Aden; he only has three weeks left.

Fort Apache in Aden
Well, actually, its proper name is the Sheraton Hotel. The DSS chief here is Doug Reynolds. Betsy Collins is there as the Supervisory Special Agent and Team Leader of ERT. Lyle Manning is the Supervisory Special Agent of the ten-man FBI SWAT Team. I thought FBI was supposed to be national while CIA was international? Captain “Mac” McAndrews is a Marine. Lance Corporals Brad Schiller and Wayne Peeples are guards at the Sheraton.

Wasim al-Rahib is the tour guide; Isa is the bus driver, Wasim’s wife’s cousin. Annette is the teenaged Belgian. Matt Longo is a young American John meets in Sana’a, exploring the country. Anisa is one of the women running the Hope in Your Hands shop. Tariq is the young Yemeni who sets the transponders.

ATTF, 26 Federal Plaza, New York City
FBI Special-Agent-in-Charge Tom Walsh is John’s boss, who’s more interested in loyalty to those above him than to those below. Frank is one of the guards at 26 Federal Plaza. Betty Alvarez gets the heads-up about a possible informant. Al-Rasul is one of John’s co-workers and a good friend. Better than Walsh.

Ed Burke and Tony Savino are ex-cops as well, also working for the Feds. Ann Burke, Ed’s wife, is still on the job while Marie is a stay-at-home mom.

Guest kidnappings. I don’t understand places like this. Khat is a leaf that’s chewed as a stimulant. A hijab is a head scarf that all women must wear.

…Thursday is wet burqua night at the wadi. … Bring your laundry.

The Cover and Title

The cover has a silver metallic background with a pouncing black panther between the author’s name and the title.

The title is John’s latest target, The Panther, one of the architects of the U.S.S. Cole’s bombing back in 2000.