The Lion’s Game by Nelson DeMille. Or Thriller as Ambien?

Attempted May 2017
Recommended for fans of DeMille and reallllly slow burns
★    ★   

Abandoning this book. I just don’t have time in my life right now for this kind of detail. I think this is the kind of book that can appeal to people who watch 12 episode miniseries on Elizabethan England, except it’s nominally a ‘thriller,’ so to be honest, I’m not sure who the target population is. People who are really, really good at waiting for a payoff, I suppose. My mom enjoyed it, but she’s recently retired and was having trouble filling her time, so that’s another possible population (we solved that by getting a 6 month old dog).

It starts wonderfully; snappy pace, ironic dialogue, intriguing plot and decent character creation. John Corey, who was apparently a hundred times more oinky in Plum Island has toned down the sexism. There’s a paragraph aside discussing how he hasn’t hit on anyone at his new job with the Feds, and how he’s discovered life as a confidante for female co-workers. He still tries to provoke response with an assortment of ethnic jokes, however, but it’s pretty clear he’s doing it to be an ass and to show a rebellious spirit, not because he actually cares about someone’s ethnicity. I found much of his commentary to be a great mix of hilarious and insightfulness.

Once the initial series of incidents occur, the pace slows down significantly. The Fed side is taken up with meetings, analysis and flirting between Corey and another member of the team. To compensate, DeMille follows the terrorist, the ‘Lion’ Asad, through a pivotal moment in his upbringing and through following exploits in the U.S. I had a fair amount of trouble with his perspective, because while I found it started well, it segued into zealot/sociopath rather quickly. I’m definitely a fan of subtle and nuance, and while I would have expected a 700 page book to have time to give some development to understanding a terrorist, he ends up being single-note psychopath.

I found myself skimming large swaths to see if there was any improvement in pacing or narrative, but there really wasn’t. I decided to abandon because there really is so much more on Mount TBR to try rather than wading through this.

MrsJoseph nailed the issue in the status comments below, that this is a 300-400 page thriller trapped in a 700 page book. My bookmark was trapped at page 279 when I quit.

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About thebookgator

avid reader and Goodreads reviewer looking for a home.
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