Nelson DeMille's latest novel The Panther is the sixth book in the John Corey series. Corey is the witty but heroic member of the Anti-Terrorist Task Force located in New York. His wife Kate is an FBI Agent who is also assigned to this group. Their adventures have made for some of DeMille's best writing in the past. Unfortunately this time out it results in one of DeMille's worst efforts.
John and Kate are assigned to a mission in Sana'a, Yemen. They and a team of strategists are going after "The Panther," the man credited with blowing up the USS Cole. The year is 2004 and John and Kate are picked because they previously terminated "The Lion," another high profile terrorist.
Once in Yemen they are joined by Paul Brenner, another heroic figure who has played a major role in previous DeMille novels. Having Brenner, Corey and Kate all part of the story raises hopes that this book will exceed even the excitement of DeMille's previous novels. This hope and all others are soon dashed in the extremely long narratives about the country of Yemen and of the actions and plans of this team.
The book is long -- over six hundred pages long. The reader must wade through mountains of philosophy, history, and character development before reaching any sort of exciting climax to the story. This is ridiculous. If DeMille knows his readers at all he knows they crave excitement, adventure and suspense, none of which is present in The Panther to any large degree. The "action" takes place in the last 80 pages of the book and it is so slight as to be nonexistent.
What is present is John Corey's wit. His mental asides to the reader have been a staple of his character. In The Panther he is still making smart comments both oral and mental, but in most instances they come across as silly and belabored. There is also his jealousy of Paul Brenner who takes an almost minimal interest in John's wife Kate. This makes the character appear silly and petty, traits we have not previously assigned to Corey.
Lengthy books can be enjoyable. Ken Follett's World Without End proved that to be true. DeMille's novel seems to be full of padding for a minimal storyline that couldn't fill a reasonably sized book.
Nelson DeMille is a very talented writer. His books are events for which readers wait for years. The Panther proves to be a misfire on his part and a major disappointment for those who have eagerly anticipated it.
The Panther is published by Grand Central Publishing. It contains 640 pages and sells for $27.00.
Jackie K Cooper