Monday, January 08, 2007

Literature: Wildfire by Nelson DeMille

Wildfire is Nelson DeMille’s fourth novel about former NYPD detective John Corey, critically wounded in The Lion’s Game by a Libyan terrorist. This injury ended Corey’s career with the NYPD with three-quarters disability and started his career on an Anti-Terrorism Task Force, on which he serves with his new wife, FBI Special Agent Kate Mayfield (also wounded by the same Libyan terrorist as her husband). At the point of Wildfire we find Corey’s task force sending a member to conduct surveillance at the compound of a rich oil baron in upstate New York. Bain Madox, said oil baron is having a friendly get-together at his place with members of government all intent on the annihilation of the Muslim world justified by what might be called the Reichstag reasoning.

Madox reveals his plan to the unfortunate agent sent to spy on him shortly before murdering him and positioning his body off the compound grounds, making the murder look like a hunting accident. The characteristically loose-cannon Corey becomes interested in this surveillance gone wrong at the compound and he and Mayfield are dispatched to investigate by their bureaucrat boss, protecting his ass for the ill-informed original surveillance (which Corey was originally pick to conduct).

Corey’s nose thumbing begins early as he clowns his way through an investigation that turns rogue quickly to the chagrin of his special agent wife. Early on, Corey reasons that his boss was being controlled by forces in the government unknown. He willfully disobeys every order in his investigation of the mysterious Madox, visiting the compound several times. Corey plays with the local authorities, creating subterfuge where ever he goes. Mayfield is not so much hapless as she is incapable of controlling her husband and employee. No matter, the pair get their man (or men as it were, cleaning up messes made in the previous novels.). The story speeds to a heady conclusion and the moment of Armageddon approaches, making the book a fast, urgent read indeed.

Nelson DeMille is a competent, successful author. He heads the reader off at pass by addressing the unbelievable recklessness of his protagonist Corey by invoking creative license. Okay, I will allow him that. His Corey is a smart and entertaining investigator, irreverent and arrogant, he carries his faux-preoccupation with the regional black bears into every conversation he has during the investigation along with his suspicion of the FBI, CIA and any number of other shadowy government agencies. He operates on his gut and by the seat of his pants which, because of creative license works out for him perfectly. Wildfire is not a brooding intellectual read, but it is a raging blaze demanding to be read fast and without caution. It is easy to understand why DeMille is so popular.

This review was first published in

© Copyright, C. Michael Bailey, 2006