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Book Review: "The Quest" by Nelson DeMille

Posted By Blackfive • [September 17, 2013]

The following book review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper. You can read all of our book reviews by clicking on the Books category on the far right side bar.

9781455576425_p0_v2_s260x420Nelson DeMille, the dean of political thriller writers, draws upon his past experiences as a Viet Nam veteran and former history major in his latest book The Quest.  It is a compelling and intriguing story that includes an adventure and a war story, tinged with a little romance.

DeMille has come full circle in that The Quest is actually a re-write of his first novel, published as a paperback in 1975.  In actuality it is a completely new story since the author noted, “I rewrote it with about 80% new material; although the structure and the characters are the same. I look at the original as an outline for this version.” The reader will definitely get a flavor for the 1970s, with the dialogue, attitudes, and the events. 

The plot takes off from the very beginning with a description of war torn Ethiopia and the Marxist revolution. Intertwined is the story of how two journalists and a photographer decide to search for the holiest of relics, the Holy Grail, and to tell their adventure story.  While having to combat the jungles and revolutionaries they must also come to grips with the love triangle between the two male journalists and their female photographer. 

He writes about the revolution, “Men like that are taking over the world…what the hell has gone wrong.”  In explaining it, DeMille noted to BlackFive.net, “They just shot three hundred members of the royal family.  I wanted to write how Marxists typically tried to kill and eliminate the aristocracy.  The brutality against the ruling class was a knee jerk reaction, which unraveled that society. The violence can be a history lesson for today when all this cruelty is being inflicted on the Coptic Christians in Egypt and Syria. Before the Marxists came to power the different religions actually got along: the Christians, Muslims, and Jews.  As a side note, back then ‘Muslim’ was spelled ‘Moslem.’”

He told BlackFive.net that while he wrote this book his mind was still in the jungles of Viet Nam, having been out of the army for about five years.  This can explain why one of his characters was a journalist who suffered while imprisoned by the North Vietnamese.  There is also a shout out to those in the military with the quote, “Military minds were generally clear and geared up to practical matters and problem solving.  Lives depended on it.”

Regarding the characters the reader will be able to contrast their personalities. Frank is cool, a man’s man, bright, cynical, realistic, and caring while Henry is wimpy, a con artist, and a manipulator.  These personality traits are made clear as they struggle for the love of Vivian and to escape the brutality that is all around them in Ethiopia. DeMille does not mince any words in describing the barbaric and brutal ways of the Marxists.

Since this book is a stand-alone, as some of his early books, fans might miss the quick-witted and cocky attitude of his famous characters John Corey and Kate Mayfield. Not to worry says DeMille, since his next book will bring them back as they face the Russian enemy even without the Cold War.  He commented to  BlackFive.net,  “Putin was able to regain power and take the advantage because of the weakness projected by this administration.  Everyone is up in arms about what Putin said about America’s exceptionalism but forget Obama said the same thing. Unlike my Cold War stories, this book will be a little more complex to show how the Russians are still the bad guys.”

Whether writing about current events or past incidents, as in The Quest, DeMille sounds the alarm.  The Quest is a fast-paced, realistic, and insightful book that readers will not want to put down.


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