Which is the greatest Cat-n-Mouse chase story of all times? It’s surely the one that took place between a cat named Tom and a mouse named Jerry. I loved watching them when I was a kid, and today, when i can safely say that I have grown up, a little bit, I still enjoy their antics. But, would I have enjoyed them had their show ran for say 90 mins? No, then it would have turned boring. Definitely I wouldn’t have liked watching Tom create booby traps, one after another for jerry to fall into and Jerry annoying Tom and escaping time and time again, with no plot whatsoever and within a same setting for a period of 90 mins. No wonder their shows had a running time of max 10 mins and always featured a different setting and a new storyline with the central theme of Cat-n-mouse game intact.
THE LION by Nelson DeMille was a similar story, a Cat-n-mouse chase with some add-ons like high male testosterone infused in both the Cat(Asad Khalil) and Mouse(John Corey). Everyone was out there to show how macho they are, how bad mouthed they can be. Corey was out there to prove that he is a knight in the shining armour, whose injured wife won’t come in front of him in his quest for duty. Who, like every typical American hero, must have a dumb guy-cum-political aspirant-cum-no gooder as his boss. Who must have a personal animosity with the bad guy, the bad guy must kill someone close to him, and the book being a typical DeMille book must be HUGE. Yess, this was NDM’s version of Tom and Jerry garnished with a lot of macho antics, dead bodies, Libya-Al Qaeda-Terrorist, Islamic fanaticism, and no plot whatsoever.
But, then what made this book get 3 stars? Well, beside all the faults this book had one big point in its favour. Its pace. Frankly I am not a big fan of the John Le Carre type of spy fiction, where everything happens too slow and the book is itself written in a style which shouts of pseudo-literarism. I need and love speed in thrillers, and this book had plenty. Yess although at times the macho-ness, the dialogues, the characters seemed over the top, but the pace made me race through those areas without letting me devote much time upon the faults that existed. In a way, this is a clever book without much plot but with a lot of pace which after finishing it leaves the reader like me, with a peculiar sense of satisfaction from reading a very mediocre spy thriller.