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Mike BarryEye on the Island

By Mike Barry
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The Lion Returns

Bestselling author Nelson DeMille incorporates into The Lion (Grand Central Publishing), his just-released sequel to 2000’s The Lion’s Game, a highly entertaining mix of page-turning action and thinly-veiled national security briefings.

The longtime Garden City resident’s latest work of fiction is set in 2003, and the U.S. is a changed place because of the events of Sept. 11, 2001.  John Corey, a former NYPD homicide detective who is now a Manhattan-based special agent for the federal government’s Anti-Terrorist Task Force, learns while on a weekend getaway with his wife, fellow agent Kate Mayfield, that Asad Khalil, a Libyan assassin known as The Lion, is back in the U.S. to settle some scores.  

Before crossing paths with Corey and Mayfield, Khalil is traversing the U.S. in private aircraft.  DeMille makes clear, however, that a real-life terrorist could move around this country undetected because private aviation companies need not keep a record of who is traveling on their planes.

“Nobody knows who’s on board,” DeMille says, “It contrasts so sharply with commercial aviation.”  Federal regulators have access to the name of a private plane’s pilot, and its flight plan, but little else, the book illustrates.

Referring to another scene in The Lion, written long before the recent failed terrorist attack occurred in Times Square, DeMille says, “Car bombs are another thing they [the federal government] don’t talk a lot about.  But one car bomb, or a truck bomb, would certainly paralyze the city.”

DeMille, a decorated Vietnam combat veteran and Hofstra graduate, mentions in The Lion’s Acknowledgements the due diligence involved in creating some of the book’s more vivid chapters.  One scene is set at a Sullivan County, NY skydiving facility and another at a Brighton Beach, Brooklyn nightclub.  DeMille’s skillful scene-setting has made things easy for a screenwriter, if The Lion is converted into a major motion picture.  The General’s Daughter, another DeMille novel, became a 1999 film starring John Travolta.

Hollywood definitely sees potential in bringing John Corey to theaters and Corey’s inimitable style has caught the attention of A-List actors who see him as a potential franchise character, according to DeMille.  Moviegoers should imagine a refined urban Rambo with a wicked sense of humor, an eye for the ladies, and a frequent urge to consume alcoholic beverages.

“Corey is still very much alive at Columbia Motion Pictures,” DeMille stated, noting that the studio owns the film adaptation rights to two of his five Corey books, Plum Island and The Lion’s Game, and is now considering The Lion to add to their John Corey franchise.

The Lion hit bookstores on Tuesday, June 8, and Long Islanders will have an opportunity to meet DeMille this month, starting with his Thursday, June 10, visit to The Book Revue, 313 New York Avenue, Huntington.  The short talk, question and answer session, and book signing begins at 7 p.m.  The same format will be followed at DeMille’s Monday, June 14, 7 p.m. appearance at Barnes & Noble, 91 Old Country Road, Carle Place.

For more information on the author and his publisher, visit either www.nelsondemille.net or www.hachettebookgroup.com.

Mike Barry, a corporate communications consultant, has worked in government and journalism. Email: MFBARRY@optonline.net