THE BLOG

The Russians Are Back, DeMille Style, Unfortunately

06/24/2015 03:44 pm ET | Updated Jun 24, 2016

The Russians are coming -- again! From the 1950s through the '80s, on screen, in print, the very badest of baddies were always the Russians. At any moment the Commie rats will lower an A-bomb on the Super Bowl (Black Sunday), invade the U.S. (Red Dawn) or invade Miami Beach (Invasion USA) And think of all those early James Bond stories.

But as the world turns, so do our villains. Russians as evil-doers gave way to Chinese Communists, called ChiComs as in many of the two-hundred-and sixty-one Nick Carter Killmaster books.

Soon Chinese bad-asses yield to fiendish arabs as in Stalone's bulked-up Rambo series and Nelson DeMille's tense, taught and terrific thriller, The Panther. But now, the Russians are back as the go-to nasties. On film, Melissa McCarthy takes them on in Spy, Steven Spielberg fights them in his upcoming Bridge of Spies.

In audio (10.5 hours) and print (320 pages) the usually reliable Nelson DeMille delivers a brace of brutal Russians keen on nuking New York City in Radiant Angel, the newest in DeMille's Det. John Corey series. The nub: the Ruskies plant a 10 kiloton suitcase bomb in a luxury yacht off New York City. It will go off during the morning rush unless Det. Corey can locate the nuke, bring the Russians down, disarm the bomb and save mankind, or the Lower Manhattan part of it. Can he do it? Of course. And there's the rub of the nub. You know New York is not going to be destroyed so the value of this yarn lies in the HOW of it all. And that, sadly, comes under the heading, 'been there, done that.' Every beat in here feels familiar including the scene with the undaunted hero disarming the nuke as the final seconds tick down on the always present bomb clock. Violence and brutality abound in Radiant Angel. DeMille's Russians are super skilled at bloodshed and slaughter killing-off gaggles of folks just getting the nuke in place. All predictable action. No un-predictable emotionality.

if author DeMille has written his Det. Corey star with any sense of irony or levity, you won't find it in the audiobook edition. Scott Brick's uber-dramatic narration here is a place where levity goes to die.

To the point we started with - the return of the Russians as dastards -- how come? Best guess: it's Vlad the Bad, Russians current macho-man, Vladimir Putin. The fellow seems focused on re-igniting the old post-WWII Cold War. From our current books and movies, he seems to be succeeding.