The Panther by Nelson DeMille (Grand Central Publishing, Oct. 2012)-When John Corey, of the Anti-Terrorist Task Force and his wife, FBI agent Kate Mayfield, are told that the powers that be would like them to go to Yemen on a mission, Kate is enthusiastic, but John Corey is reticent, and more than a little suspicious as to why they were chosen for the mission specifically. Evidently, there’s a US citizen in league with Al Qaeda, nicknamed The Panther, who has been slaughtering innocents in Yemen, including a group of Belgian tourists, and instigating terrorist attacks. The mission is described as an arrest mission, but Corey knows better. He knows that the sole purpose of the trip is to find and eliminate The Panther. Tensions are very high, especially since he’s connected to the bombing of the USS Cole a few years earlier (this actually happened in 2000), and outrage that an American citizen could be behind this is understandable. However, they’re short on time and under pressure to complete the mission quickly, since The Panther’s parents have hired a lawyer and are trying to get his name removed from the CIA kill list. Yemen isn’t exactly a welcoming place for Americans and double dealing and double crossing are the name of the game. John and Kate, and their team, will have to have all of their wits about them to complete this mission unscathed.
I am a huge fan of the John Corey series, so when The Panther came out, it was on the top of my to-read list. The Panther is told primarily in John’s voice interspersed with what the Panther is up to at any given time. A word on John’s unique voice: he’s a near constant smartass and sometimes says sexist things. This said, he makes me laugh, and given that he’s a strong character with a huge heart (and the best of intentions), I let this stuff slide, much like his long suffering wife, Kate Mayfield. Hey, she’s no dummy, and she married the guy, plus she gives as good as she gets.
All kidding aside, John and Kate are on a very serious mission, and I was pleased when they revealed Paul Brenner as a member of the team assigned to find the Panther. You may remember Brenner from DeMille’s 1999 novel, The General’s Daughter (yes, there was a movie, but I try not to think about that). So, now you have two ex-cops on the case, which actually works out well, since someone needs to counteract the near constant secrecy and double crossing of the CIA and various other intelligence agencies. As a woman, I cringed at Kate’s experience in a place that’s, shall we say, not exactly trumpeting the joys of being a woman on a regular basis. She takes it in stride, though, and puts her trust in John, which is a good idea, since this is not his first mission to Yemen. However, the great Kate is more than capable of kicking some serious butt.
If espionage is your thing, you’re gonna love this, and for DeMille fans, it’s another title on his long list of awesome. In The Panther, John claims to be a person that doesn’t self-analyze all that much, but he actually does quite a lot of it in this one. I can’t imagine what it would be like to not entirely trust your teammates on a life and death mission such as this, yet John and Kate handle it with their usual aplomb, and of course, John’s particular brand of humor. Part of the joy of John is his interactions with others. It says a lot about a person if they can spar with him, and to my delight, Paul is is more than up to the challenge and becomes a valuable ally. This one’s a doozy, weighing in at over 600 pages and the action is few and far between, but that wasn’t a bad thing, because when the final showdown happens, it packs a huge punch. DeMille is a seasoned pro, and while you’ll want Corey to get the Panther, the journey is what makes this book great. It’s an excellent addition to a superb series, and I personally can’t wait for more of John and Kate.