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Gurglings of a Putrid Stream

Thoughts on books and other assorted topics.

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My name:  Brian Martin

Wild Fire by Nelson DeMille

Wild Fire - Nelson DeMille

Would I be giving away the ending if I was reviewing a James Bond book and I told you that Bond stops the bad guy before his evil plan was complete? If you answer yes to that question -- if you believe that would spoil the suspense -- then stop reading this review, because I'm about to do something similar here.

After reading and thoroughly enjoying Nelson DeMille's Night Fall, which is the book in his John Corey series immediately before this one, I picked up Wild Fire. Night Fall ended with 9/11, and, among other reasons (like I really liked the last one), I read this one because I was curious to see how DeMille handled the post-9/11 world.

He decided to go nuclear.

John Corey, working with the Anti-Terrorist Task Force, and his FBI wife, Kate Mayfield, this time find themselves on the trail of a group of rich and/or influential men who want pay back for September 11, 2001, using the Ender Wiggin method: they don't want to stop Middle Eastern terrorists once, they want to stop them for all time. And they have a plan to do it. Leading the group is oil tycoon Bain Madox, who makes the mistake of screwing with one of Corey's friends and colleagues -- meaning that now Corey wants a little payback of his own.

This book has nearly everything I liked so much about the previous book: great dialogue, a vast conspiracy, entertaining and exciting detective work, and a sense of humor. And I enjoyed it almost as much. Only almost, because it lacked one thing the other book had: an explosive ending.

Maybe that sounds a little sick given how the last book ended. But I am happy that among my many faults an ability to distinguish fiction from reality isn't one of them. Especially not when I'm reading a thriller. And decades of reading thrillers and seeing them on movie and television screens have, I'm afraid to say, somewhat jaded me. I crave overkill. So, you see, I didn't want Corey to stop bad-guy Bain, at least not before he'd accomplished something nuclear. I wanted a big boom. And I didn't get one.

I so rarely do. And of course I know why: if these books' plots had half the balls of their heroes, it wouldn't be long before "thriller" became "science fiction," as the world was progressively twisted out of all recognition. So I can't really deduct anything for that. But I can and will take one star away for what it initiated in this instance, to wit, the Batman Protocol (from the TV series). This is when the bad guy has to devise some ridiculous method of execution for the hero or has him too close at the fateful moment, while explaining his entire plan. The Batman Protocol is never believable and always a letdown.

But it isn't unexpected, and DeMille somehow manages to maintain a modicum of tension during the final moments. And it certainly doesn't cancel out the vast bulk of the book, which is very entertaining.