"The Panther," by Nelson DeMille. Grand Central, 629 pp. $27.99.
John Corey and Kate Mayfield live a fairly uneventful life. Aside from John's international mission to kill The Lion, the Libyan terrorist and villain of DeMille's previous book, "The Lion." John and Kate are regular citizens of New York, aside from the line on her FBI record noting her kill of a CIA agent.
John is a retired NYPD officer, and Kate is a valuable member of the FBI. Together, along with a classified number of others, they make up the first Federally funded Anti-Terrorist Task Force.
A man named Bulus ibn al-Darwish,known as the Panther, is working with al-Qaeda. He is known to have been one of the masterminds behind the Cole attack - the primary plot of "The Lion" - and the U.S. Government wants to talk to him.
The Panther knows the name of John Corey, and after his briefing, John knows his opponent's name as well.
John and Kate are sent to Yemen to find this man. However, it's not until they get there that they learn their primary objective is to draw the Panther to them. They are bait.
"The Panther" is quick and action-packed, though not as engaging as it could be. Instead of a war-hardened soldier ready to jump back in the line of duty to save his country, DeMille gives us John Corey, a man who, if the book allowed the reader much insight into the thoughts of those John comes into contact with, could be construed as the village idiot.
John is a wisecrack, one to laugh at his own jokes. While he may not voice all of his opinions, to the benefit of those listening, the reader learns all. John is disrespectful and arrogant. In a real-to-life situation, it would be a wonder his words didn't get him killed.
Her husband's childlike behavior, however, gives Kate that much more of a lift. She is an even-keeled professional. Kate is not the average Bond girl; she is good for much more than her attractive looks.
No superhero is complete without his upstanding gentleman of a sidekick, and John is no exception. Buckminster "Buck" Harris, a "well-dressed gent of about 60," seems to know just enough about everything to be seen as an enigma. Buck and Kate, however, give enough reason to read the book as John gives to place it gingerly back on the shelf.