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The Lion

November 16th, 2010

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Book Overview:

In this eagerly awaited follow-up to The Lion's Game, John Corey, former NYPD Homicide detective and special agent for the Anti-Terrorist Task Force, is back. And, unfortunately for Corey, so is Asad Khalil, the notorious Libyan terrorist otherwise known as "The Lion." Last we heard from him, Khali had claimed to be defecting to the US only to unleash the most horrific reign of terrorism ever to occur on American soil. While Corey and his partner, FBI agent Kate Mayfield, chased him across the country, Khalil methodically eliminated his victims one by one and then disappeared without a trace. Now, years later, Khalil has returned to America to make good on his threats and take care of unfinished business. "The Lion" is a killing machine once again loose in America with a mission of revenge, and John Corey will stop at nothing to achieve his own goal -- to find and kill Khahil.

Book Review

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out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12796 user reviews
Fiction Books In this eagerly awaited follow-up to The Lion's Game, John Corey, former NYPD Homicide detective and special agent for the Anti-Terrorist Task Force, is back. And, unfortunately for Corey, so is Asad Khalil, the notorious Libyan terrorist otherwise known as "The Lion." Last we heard from him, Khali had claimed to be defecting to the US only to unleash the most horrific reign of terrorism ever to occur on American soil. While Corey and his partner, FBI agent Kate Mayfield, chased him across the country, Khalil methodically eliminated his victims one by one and then disappeared without a trace. Now, years later, Khalil has returned to America to make good on his threats and take care of unfinished business. "The Lion" is a killing machine once again loose in America with a mission of revenge, and John Corey will stop at nothing to achieve his own goal -- to find and kill Khahil.

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  1. James Rogers
    November 17th, 2010 at 23:16 | #1


    The Lion, as most readers will know, is the sequel to The Lion’s Game. I agree with reviewers who feel this work is inferior to its predecessor and to other novels in DeMille’s bibliography before Wild Fire. While the story was entertaining enough to finish, I couldn’t help but notice deterioration in the quality of storytelling. My three major gripes with this novel can be categorized from most to least bothersome: DeMille’s treatment of Khalil, John Corey’s attitude, and various other storytelling issues. The major plot idea was acceptable and even compelling: Khalil was back for revenge. I bought the novel in hardback based upon the strength of The Lion’s Game and my strong like for DeMille’s storytelling especially before Wildfire. He is my favorite live author of thrillers by far. He deserves all accolades and rewards derived from his work and it is with that appreciation for his skill that I write this review.

    First, Khalil’s attempts on Kate and Corey’s lives are ineffective to the point of being ridiculous. In The Lion’s Game, DeMille established Khalil as a world-class assassin produced through Khalil’s genetic potential as a warrior and intense and long-term individual tutoring by an ex-KGB agent. In this story, DeMille even enhances Khalil’s skills through additional training with the Taliban. The outcome of such remarkable training and natural ability is that he fails to kill either Kate or Corey despite surprise being on his side. However, everyone else he targets stands no chance at all of survival. The attempt on Kate is botched even though she is basically helpless. As for Corey, he is not conditioned to attack like a professional assassin. As a police officer, he is trained in teamwork and submission of citizenry to the law. Killing for Corey is a last resort. For an assassin, it is a primary objective. Corey’s typical opponents are amateurs at lethal fighting such as street thugs, white collar criminals, and private citizens who rely on wit and wealth to succeed at crime. In Plum Island he bests Frederic Tobin (a private citizen with no combat or weapons training). In The Lion he incapacitates a foreign diplomat. Corey is mid 40s, has been shot three times in the torso resulting in three-quarters disability, has a bad diet and drinks frequently. Khalil is in his 20s and is a religious fanatic foregoing alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, and even sex. He lives to train and kill. This is not even close to a fair match, but Corey wins the knife fight. When were cops taught to fight with knives? Also, in The Lion’s Game, Khalil kills close-up with a gun by surprising his targets in a way that leaves them defenseless. In The Lion, he switches to knives/blunt objects, but his method is to immobilize and then torture/kill. Yet he doesn’t do that with Corey. Is he suddenly so naive as to not wonder if Corey has a backup weapon? Kate should be dead. Corey should be severely maimed or dead. If Khalil’s efforts fell short of his goal it should be in the form of capture by police or perhaps the CIA (lurking unknown to anyone in the background… Khalil attacks Corey exposing himself, nearly kills Corey, but the CIA intervenes and captures Khalil for torture… or some other dark purpose… if Nash, another thoroughly entertaining villain killed unnecessarily hadn’t died, he could be there to apprehend him). At this point, I wish Khalil was back so badly I am willing to go along with strapping a lightning rod to Khalil’s body and placing him on top of a skyscraper for God to resurrect!

    That Khalil’s death occurred at the hands of Corey only increased my objection to the outcome. Corey has grown tiresome and annoying. The story begins with Corey describing details of his current situation with sarcastic and egotistical opinions inserted after each fact (this pattern of fact-sarcasm narration has been pervasive for the last four Corey novels: Plum Island, The Lion’s Game, Night Fall, and Wild Fire). Enough. Corey’s attitude began growing monotonous after Night Fall and by now it is just irritating. The sarcasm and arrogance should be reduced. Also, with this novel, I am beginning to think that DeMille’s world view concerning foreign cultures/countries particularly Iran and the larger Middle East has taken on a touch of extremism which is channeled through Corey’s disparaging remarks especially in the first few chapters. When one considers the foreword to Wild Fire in which DeMille states that America should have a plan like WildFire if it doesn’t already, Corey seems to be a mouthpiece for DeMille. (FYI, Wild Fire is a contingency plan to nuke most of the Middle East in the event of nuke attack on the US by Islamic terrorists. This is supposed to deter terrorists from attacking us domestically and motivate foreign governments to go after terrorists in their own countries. Using DeMille’s logic of responding to a terrorist attack by using similar weaponry as the terrorists, but deployed in overwhelming force on the general population that unintentionally produced the terrorists, I don’t know what we are supposed to do with the citizens and government of Oklahoma for the failure to stop Timothy McVeigh.)

    Other bothersome contents/details are interspersed throughout the narrative. It appeared after the first few chapters, that DeMille was establishing parallelism between Corey and Khalil in that both believed in and desired revenge. The potential existed to make a statement through the outcome of the story on the consequences of a revenge mindset (ultimately it brings about one’s downfall, violence perpetuates violence, etc.) and perhaps generalize the theme to American foreign policy. This theme is never developed. While DeMille generally does not include morals and themes in his thrillers, it would have bolstered the thin plot. Rather, it appears that revenge-seeking functioned solely as motive to propel Corey and Khalil into confrontation. As for objections mentioned by other readers, I was not at all bothered by the extra gore. I agree Khalil seems to have no critical role in the truck bomb plot which makes no sense. The reason he doesn’t go after Reagan is that Reagan died in 2004. I agree that attacking Kate in midair hanging from a parachute was a little over-the-top, but not nearly as stupid as Kate not dying. I agree that Kate would not be sexually interested in Corey. At least 40% of the book (the middle 40) was non-action with Kate recovering in the hospital. More entertaining scenarios existed such as Khalil attacking Kate in the hospital despite security, killing Kate in the jump and going after the ATTF offices, maybe attacking one or more CIA personnel (which could create back story about Khalil’s experiences between The Lion’s Game and The Lion… DeMille could have made an entire book about Nash vs. Khalil in Afghanistan).

    In summary, this is a case of potential only half realized. The story was entertaining enough to maintain my interest, but I was seriously annoyed with Corey’s attitude and the lack of action in the middle chapters. DeMille created an intriguing super assassin and then not only handicapped him to allow Corey and Kate to prevail, but eliminated him; the most interesting character in the book, for whom the book is named, deserved better!

  2. Philly gal
    November 20th, 2010 at 00:34 | #2


    No spoilers here. John Corey, the ex NYPD homicide detective who now works for the Federal anti terrorism task force is the main character. This is DeMille’s fifth John Corey novel (Plum Island, Lion’s Game, Night Fall and Wild Fire). You do not have to read these novels to enjoy this one although DeMille does make references to events in those earlier books.

    This story is set in NYC thirteen months post the 9/11 attacks. Corey is working alongside his wife Kate Mayfield an FBI agent. In a terrifying, suspenseful scene involving a skydiving trip, they encounter the Libyan terrorist Asad Khalil. DeMille presents the motivations of both Corey and Khalil; unusual for this type of thriller you can actually understand the roots of Khalil’s terrorism. Events move along quickly following the initial meeting. The action is centered in the metro New York area and exploits the difficulties the federal/state/local agencies have had cooperating and sharing intelligence information. Corey stands above the bureaucracy and has a singular focus on bringing down the terrorist. The characters in this novel are engaging, funny and sharply drawn. Corey is non-stop with the wisecracks, I find them funny and occasionally laugh out loud funny but I can see how some readers might be annoyed by the frequency of these comments. I think you either like the Corey character or you don’t.

    This is a top-notch action thriller. Differing from some of DeMille’s earlier novels, this one is tight and well edited coming in at around 400 pages. The novel gathers in the reader with a strong opening, the plot is well organized and believable, the ending a little abrupt. I think DeMille fans will be pleased with this installment in the John Corey series and no doubt staying up late to finish this thriller.

  3. Mskitty
    November 20th, 2010 at 16:49 | #3


    I agree with the several reviewers who stated that John Corey’s character is becoming less and less appealing as the series goes on. The John Corey of “Plum Island,” whose politically incorrect humor was so spot on, has become over the last few books a predictable bore. The sarcastic remarks were beginning to wear thin in “Wild Fire,” where Corey took great delight in insulting ordinary people (waitresses, airport employees) who were going to great lengths to assist him.

    The level of violence in this book was way over the top in my opinion, and just plain revolting at some points. But I reserve my biggest criticism for the preposterious romance between the almost 50 year old Corey and the much younger Kate. I didn’t buy it in “The Lion’s Game,” a much superior book to this one, and if I didn’t buy it there I’m not going to buy it here. DeMille has somewhere along the line become mired in predictable plot lines and characters who are starting to become very similiar: John Corey is not much different than the protagonist of “The Gate House,” a book that struggled to get even two stars from me. And the women are pretty much clones as well. It is a shame, as DeMille’s earlier works are great favorites of mime.

  4. R. Clark
    November 20th, 2010 at 18:43 | #4


    …and let’s hope there’s no third time, or we’ll have to conclude that Nelson DeMille has turned on us, and these tepid sequels are enemy action.

    DeMille has written a number of excellent novels, and at least two truly great ones. Last year he released an extremely disappointing sequel to one of the great ones — “The Gate House,” sequel to “The Gold Coast.” I don’t consider “The Lion’s Game” to be among his best work, but it’s one of the most popular, and here is another very bad DeMille sequel, in many ways even worse then “The Gate House.”

    Why is it bad? 1) The plot is cannot be summarized without telling the whole story, because there’s so little to it. 2) There is very little sense of time and place, because it’s set approximately six years ago and the background is a stock version of Manhattan apparently taken from the author’s own memories, requiring little or no research. 3) John Corey, the protagonist, is almost a caricature of himself, his sarcastic sense of humor sounding more like a bad insult comic, and his talents and instinct as an investigator apparently abandoning him at a crucial moment, not for any plot-driven reason but because it was time to move on to the final scene and, apparently, DeMille couldn’t come up with a believable scenario for bringing the principle players together.

    DeMille is a more than competent writer. Even his worst book (this one, I think), can carry a reader along on the strength of lively dialogue and vivid description. But that describes hundreds of writers; what’s missing here is what makes DeMille unique — characters who change and do surprising but believable things; settings and situations that are unusual but brought to vivid life by inventive writing; involved but credible plots that don’t necessarily go where you expect them to, but seem inevitible after they are revealed.

    I hope the DeMille of “Word of Honor” and “The Charm School” is still out there somewhere. He’s been missing for two novels now. One more, and I’ll begin to suspect the KGB. :)

  5. Jim Cutler
    November 21st, 2010 at 18:03 | #5


    Just before boarding a plane at LAX I discovered that Nelson Demille has a new novel. Instant buy for me. I’ve read everything he’s written, like it all, loved several of them. I’ll leave the synopsis recaps to others and just say, terrific. It made the trip to JFK fly by. I’ve been reading more every day. His books are a treat for me, and to me he never disappoints.

  6. Mark D. Mestel
    November 22nd, 2010 at 00:15 | #6


    As a Nelson DeMille fan I hoped that this novel would be better than his last. Alas, it seems that his success has inflated his ego to the point where his writing has suffered. This book is awful. The hero, John Corey, comes across as Bruce Willis in a poorly scripted and totally unedited action film. The book is hundreds of pages too long. Sections which may be entertaining on first reading become tedious as they are repeated and repeated. When you get to be a famous author do you abandon editors or do the editors simply become sycophants helping to stroke your ego? The plot is predictable and not worth the read. Perhaps if Mr. DeMille pays attention to the readers’ reviews he will take a critical look at how his writing has deteriorated. Once an excellent author he should strive to regain that position.

  7. E. Miller
    November 22nd, 2010 at 06:00 | #7


    I have read all of DeMille’s books and enjoyed most. Corey was the first character to make me laugh out loud while reading a novel.

    However…after 300+ pages, the last chapter sucked. My first thought was DeMille got tired of writing and said screw it and cut to the final confrontation. As mentioned before, like Corey would really fall for the text message crap!!! Even if Corey knew it was a trap, at least DeMille could have set that up for the reader to believe!

    Let’s hope for some improvement in the next book.

  8. litaddiction
    November 22nd, 2010 at 18:43 | #8


    And by “he” I mean both John Corey (former NYPD and current loose-cannon agent on the federal Anti-Terrorist Task Force), *and* Nelson DeMille (author extraordinaire of political suspense and hilarity, whose last couple of books started to worry me about the extraordinaire part).

    DeMille’s 16th book (the fifth in his John Corey series) is a post-9/11 sequel to The Lion’s Game. Here it’s 2003 New York City and Asad Khalil is back to finish his revenge against the 1986 U.S. military attack on Libya that killed his mother and siblings. And to finish John Corey.

    But that’s enough said about the plot … which, whether it’s terrorism, conspiracy, or the KGB, isn’t really why I read DeMille. I read him for his smart-a**, alpha-male-with-tender-underbelly protagonists. And while a few sections here are by necessity in the third-person perspective of other characters, they thankfully aren’t like the long stretches in Wild Fire. Instead, the majority is first-person Corey — narrating more of a police procedural than rollicking thriller, a slower pace that immerses us in Corey’s amusing persona. Also making their usual appearances are Corey’s love interest (wife Kate Mayfield), the good guys of New York’s Finest, the bungling FBI, and the evil CIA. Though readers new to DeMille might more logically begin with Plum Island (the first in this series and still the best), DeMille gives enough background here for anyone to enjoy this work. (With a caution: there are several brief scenes of graphic violence.)

    The novel’s pacing is good, its length is great (not bloated like The Gate House) — and its final four sentences are perfection.

    (Review based on an advance reading copy provided by the publisher.)

  9. Murat Aktar
    November 23rd, 2010 at 08:54 | #9


    A huge fan of DeMille’s early work, I’m furious that I wasted the time to read this catastrophe of a book. There is no story, no character development, and no suspense. It is the literary equivalent of reality TV. The book is a series of vignettes for DeMille to opine on various subjects and for John Corey to engage in his tired sarcastic repartee.

  10. K. Ross
    November 24th, 2010 at 05:36 | #10


    After throwing DeMille’s last book (The Gate House) against the wall in disgust after fifty pages, I thought I’d give him another try with this latest entry in the John Cory series, which I’ve always enjoyed. What a waste of time. I agree with other reviewers who also found it down right boring for a lot of the time. The Cory character’s continuous sarcasm is getting very tired, many of the major incidents lacked realism, and the climactic confrontation was predictable.

  11. Stuart Hall
    November 28th, 2010 at 00:26 | #11


    There are exactly (or about…who really cares?)8 pages worth reading in this cesspool, 4 at the beginning and four towards the end followed by an ambiguous final scene that should be the bookend to the “dark and stormy night” contest, inspiring its own worst ending competition.

    I’ve read DeMille for many, many years, ever since “Rivers of Babylon” in a Reader’s Digest Condensed Book when I was a kid. I always considered him an excellent craftsman, a classic best selling story teller and, when he wrote in the context of Viet Nam, even a little better. But there was always something distasteful about his sex scenes… too much anger, too much male dominance, and, since his obvious need for cash has caused him to prolong the John Corey character (surely the most hollow serial detective ever, an empty shell filled with bad wisecracks and absolutely nothing else, topped in vapidity only by his wife, an empty shell filled with nothing but “Oh, John, don’t do that.” dialog repeated endlessly), he has become an embarrassment.

    Using 9/11 to shill for an increasingly bad series of novels is really pushing any boundaries of taste, no matter how much he needs the money.

    Please don’t read this book. He must not be encouraged. (And if you must, please check it out from the library, preferably under an assumed name.)

  12. D. M. Read
    November 29th, 2010 at 00:53 | #12


    Having enjoyed the smooth professionalism of “The Charm School,” I couldn’t wait to read more about the Lion, introduced in an earlier book, “The Lion’s Game.”

    But gad, what a disappointment! First of all, let me ask: did Nelson Demille’s pool boy write this, with Nelson supplying the plot? Because the quality of the writing was ABYSMAL! I couldn’t believe it, as I kept turning page after page. Rank amateurs who write fiction are obsessed with “he said” and “she said”–professionals know that you save your drama for the action, not how the character “said” it. I just couldn’t believe it! I did wonder if Nelson let a fan write this particular book: I’ve read fan-written novels before (the second time was inadvertent), and they were awful. The difference between the original author and the “fan” writer was so enormous as to be almost palpable.

    With regard to the plot, I found myself bored with the way the villain of the piece cut a swath, never encountering any opposition at all, never arousing suspicion, never running into a problem. Real life isn’t like that.

    And I agree with the reader who was fed up with John Corey’s unremitting sarcasm. Normally, I quite like Demille’s smart-alec protagonists, but in this book Corey’s mouth got on my nerves as well, as did his extreme vulgarity. Realism is one thing, but vulgar remarks about what goes on in the bedroom between husband and wife are inappropriate. They don’t advance the plot and since we know Corey quite well from earlier books, the vulgar remarks don’t even have the excuse of characterizing the speaker.

    Demille has provided some rattling good reads in the past, but believe me, next time he puts out a new book, I’m going to read the entire first chapter right in the bookstore to see whether his pool boy wrote it. Horrible writing!

  13. PajamaGuy
    November 29th, 2010 at 02:31 | #13


    The Lion – The latest John Corey novel. (some spoiler info)

    I feel a bit cheated. I wanted to type, “The latest John Corey thriller” – but it wasn’t.

    Don’t get me wrong – it was o.k….. but just o.k. Knowing what I know now, I’d still have purchased and read it – it’s just that when I’d read the last word I felt a letdown.

    “The Lion” starts off o.k., but Kate spends 80% of the book lying in a hospital room doing nothing. The scenes depicting her reason for being there were really great!

    But then the excitement dies and becomes really boring for the middle half of the book. The repeated scenes where Corey is acting as bait should have been interspersed with chapters about the Lion and his actions.

    The end of Boris was plausible and relatively exciting, but from there it died and went flat.

    Surely a fanatic with the resources available and previously used would have found out Kate was alive. The Lion would have tapped into Corey’s apartment phone and known what was going on. The safe house across the street was worthless. A shotgun or laser microphone would have picked up vital information. Neither Corey’s, nor Kate’s parents were ever endangered.

    I’ve read the whole series and was really looking forward to “The Lion”, but I’m sorry to say this John Corey novel was not a thriller and when compared to the previous ones, “The Lion” comes in last.

  14. bobbewig
    November 29th, 2010 at 16:58 | #14


    I’ve read all of DeMille’s books and liked them all; of course, to varying degrees. I was very much looking forward to reading his latest, The Lion, prior to its release. Overall, The Lion held my interest from beginning to end — but it is definitely not up to par for DeMille. I found the premise of the plot, which picks up about three years after the plot of The Lion’s Game ended, to be interesting; and I was expecting DeMille to deliver the plot with his usual amount of suspense and surprises. Ultimately, however, the level of suspense was very limited — coming mostly during the first fifty pages or so and the last fifty pages, as was the surprise level. Further, the suspense and surprises DeMille attempts to deliver are highly predictable. My main problem with The Lion was not the story, which, as I said, was entertaining enough despite several sequences of questionable credibility. My problem pertains to my steadily growing dislike of DeMille’s main character, John Corey, who has now been the featured character in five books. Corey’s constant wise cracks and know-it-all attitude is much more annoying to me than humorous. (By the way, this criticism is also true about DeMille’s main character, John Sutter, in his The Gold Coast and The Gate House books. Other than Corey being in law enforcement and Sutter being a lawyer, these characters have virtually interchangeable personalities.They even have the same first name!) I’m about to the point that I might skip future Demille books that focus on Corey. In addition, while character development had been a major strength of DeMille’s in his early works, almost all of the other characters in The Lion are one-dimensional, and the villain has some serious credibilty issues. I don’t think you’ll dislike The Lion, and if its your first DeMille book, you’ll probably be satisfied by it. However, if you’re a long-time DeMille fan, I think you’ll find it, as I did, to not be up to this author’s usual high standard.

  15. carolyn moody
    December 1st, 2010 at 07:22 | #15


    This is not DeMille’s finest hour! There is no storyline; just one gory, brutal murder after another.

    What is DeMille trying to work out?

    I look forward to a stirring story in the future with a good premise, good action and a new

    character or characters. John Corey needs to fade into the past.

    Sorry Nelson, take a rest and come up with a new genre. You are a briliant writer and can do

    much better than The Lion………..

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