© by Gerald So | geraldso.blogspot.com
My friend Andrew Carbone recommended The Lion's Game in mid-2000. Its protagonist, retired NYPD Det. John Corey, had previously appeared in Plum Island, and has since starred in four follow-ups. The Lion's Game concerns a Libyan terrorist who announces his intention to defect to the United States. Before he can be met by Corey and Anti-Terrorism Task Force colleagues, he escapes custody and takes vengeance on some participants in the U.S.'s 1986 bombing of Libya.
Andrew thought I would enjoy Corey, who narrates parts of the novel in world-weary, wisecracking fashion. I did, but the novel is almost 1,000 pages, interspersed with scenes of The Lion's killing spree. I remember being skeptical of how well any writer could get into the mind of a terrorist. The Lion's actions only mattered to me in light of Corey reaction to them, but particularly in the aftermath of 9/11 I couldn't bring myself to finish reading.
I came back to the novel yesterday, knowing Corey marries his co-worker FBI agent Kate Mayfield, who is introduced in The Lion's Game, and co-stars in the four subsequent books. Originally not intended for a series, Corey is deliberately politically incorrect, making his and Kate's developing love all the more fascinating and—I'll say it—believable.
I've still only read the parts narrated by Corey, but then that is Corey's full experience of the novel's events.