The Lion by Nelson DeMille (♦♦♦)
John Corey, a former NYPD detective, is now retired from the force on partial disability and consulting with the FBI’s Anti-Terrorist Task Force. During a weekend with his wife Kate Mayfield, an FBI agent, in the Catskill Mountains in upstate NY, Kate is assaulted by Libyan terrorist Asad Khalil and left for dead. Later on, Corey learns that on that same weekend Khalil has managed to kill seven people, one of them a colleague on the ATTF. Khalil threatens Corey to kill him next as payback for something that happened three years ago, and so the cat-and-mouse game begins.
I liked this book, though not as much as I thought I would. The reminiscing gets tiring and the book is at least two hundred pages too long. By page 470, just when I was about to give up reading, the story came alive and the finale was a pure adrenaline rush, unfortunately by then I was so tired of nothing happening that I didn’t care how the book ended.
Three characters are better developed than the rest of the ensemble: John Corey, Asad Khalil and Boris Korsakov. John Corey, a seasoned police officer now consulting with the FBI, has a sarcastic and dark sense of humor; that’s the trait that I liked the most because the book was humorous narrated from his perspective even though the plot was deadly serious. Boris Korsakov is a cliché: a rugged former KGB assassin dwelling on past glories. In spite of that, when Corey tipped Boris on Khalil’s return, Boris provided brief glimpses of how skillful a killer he used to be and the impetuosity of his trainee. Asad Khalil is who the story is based on, and it is the character with more accomplished development. Even though the story is seldom told from his perspective, readers get to know him very well due to other characters’ recollections of the events narrated in the previous novel—despite being a sequel, this novel is a stand-alone. Aside from being a typical jihadist, Khalil is a deranged murderer trained by Boris to eliminate his targets in the most “creative” ways imaginable; furthermore, he is a master of disguise, a loner and leaves no one behind so it’s easier for him to find his targets than the other way around. That said, despite not being a steady presence throughout the story, he manages to be both memorable and scary as hell.