Prolific thriller author DeMille (Night Fall, 2004, etc.) sends his NYPD detective John Corey into Yemen in pursuit of Bulus ibn al-Darwish, an Al-Qaida operative known as al-Numair, the Panther.
The Panther, a first-generation Yemeni immigrant from Perth Amboy gone bad, was in on the USS Cole attack while the ship refueled in Aden’s harbor. Now, the Panther lurks in Yemen’s unstable tribal lands. Corey and FBI agent wife Kate Mayfield serve in New York City on the Anti-Terrorist Task Force. The FBI wants the couple in Yemen to hunt the Panther. Corey and Mayfield are reluctant, especially because Corey was there earlier investigating the Cole bombing, and he knows that Yemen is a near-anarchic hotbed of terror and tribal wars exacerbated by the brutal Yemeni Political Security Organization and corrupt National Security Bureau. He also suspects they’re bait, primarily because Corey killed the Lion, a Libyan terrorist, and earned a slot on Al-Qaida’s kill list. And Corey is suspicious of any CIA involvement. Kate once killed a rogue CIA agent and “inadvertently messed up a CIA plan to turn most of the Mideast into a nuclear wasteland.” Corey thinks a mission called Operation Clean Sweep could disguise CIA revenge as friendly casualties. While it takes DeMille 600-plus pages to unreel the complex, double-dealing, fog-of-war tale, his narrative moves rapidly and sparkles with interesting historical tidbits about Yemen, Noah’s Ark and Arsh Bilqis, the throne of Sheba. DeMille’s CIA agents are old-school William Buckley-types; the patrician Buckminster Harris and the crazy patrician scion Chet Morgan. Paul Brenner, embassy DSS chief and two-tour Vietnam veteran, is a competent third wheel, and PSO Col. Hakim proves a useful foil.
Quintessential DeMille: action-adventure flavored with double-dealing and covert conspiracy.