Book Talk: Nelson DeMille, ‘Radiant Angel’
I recently loaned my copy of Nelson DeMille’s “The Gold Coast” to a friend. Although I read it more than 30 years ago, it’s one of those books that stands the test of time and one never forgets. When I pulled it off my shelf, I realized that I hadn’t read a DeMille book in a while, so I searched the web and found his ”Radiant Angel” (2015, 500 pages). It’s book 7 in the John Corey series. I’ve read a couple of them, but not all. I believe each can be a stand-alone book, although it’s usually more interesting to follow a recurring character through a series.
In Radiant Angel, John — a former NYC homicide cop and agent for most of the U.S. alphabet of intelligence agencies — has been assigned to the Diplomatic Surveillance Group to keep him out of trouble. His new partner, Tess Faraday, is supposedly a rookie whose job it is to learn from the master. But when he and Tess follow Russian intelligence agent Vasily Petrov to a party at the home of a wealthy Russian oligarch on Long Island, they disguise themselves as caterers to enter the grounds and keep an eye on the Russian spy.
During the party, Petrov, his henchmen, a nuclear scientist, and 12 prostitutes, slip away on an amphibious boat. John convinces Tess to break protocol by not informing their boss because John’s only job is not to lose the Russian. However, Petrov is one step ahead of John with a complex plan that involves compromising the super yacht of Saudi Prince Ali Faisal. The goal is to create a disaster on lower Manhattan on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the twin towers so that the event will be blamed on Islamic terrorists instead of the Russian military.
Petrov is driven by an obsession of living up to his father’s reputation, a hero in the motherland who has been awarded the Order of Lenin. It is believed that Petrov’s project is so vital to Russia that his father tells him, “Come home in glory. Or do not come home.”
John’s life and his mission are complicated when Buckminster Harris, a CIA agent who once left John for dead in Yemen, shows up, and it is revealed that Tess actually works for him. While John is clear in his mind about what he needs to do, Tess is torn between her duty to Harris and the CIA and the loyalty to John that she has developed.
As John begins calling in favors from former contacts in the New York area and charges straight ahead in his search for Petrov, Tess gradually comes to an understanding that John’s suspicions about the Russian warrant her switching loyalties. It also becomes clear that this is not a simple spy versus spy novel, but rather a “Sum of All Fears” story that keeps readers glued to the pages.
I’m really glad that I’ve rediscovered an author whose works I’ve savored over several decades.
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Jim Glynn may be contacted at email@example.com.