Taking the best elements from two of his most outstanding bestsellers, The Gold Coast and The General's Daughter, Nelson DeMille combines the breathless suspense of an expertly wrought murder mystery with his wry perspective on a peculiarly American social scene to deliver an enthralling and compelling story. Wounded in the line of duty, NYPD homicide detective John Corey convalesces in the Long Island township of Southold, home to farmers, fishermen -- and at least one killer. Tom and Judy Gordon, a young, attractive couple Corey knows, have been found on their patio, each with a bullet in the head. The local police chief, Sylvester Maxwell, wants Corey's big-city expertise, but Maxwell gets more than he bargained for. The early signs point to a burglary gone wrong. But because the Gordons were biologists at Plum Island, the offshore animal disease research site rumored to be involved in germ warfare, it isn't long before the media is suggesting that the Gordons stole something very deadly. Suddenly a local double murder becomes a crime with national and worldwide implications. John Corey doesn't like mysteries, which is why he likes to solve them. His investigations lead him into the lore, legends, and ancient secrets of northern Long Island -- more deadly and more dangerous than he could ever have imagined. During his journey of discovery, he meets two remarkable women, Detective Beth Penrose and Mayflower descendant Emma Whitestone, both of whom change his life irrevocably. Ultimately, through his understanding of the murders, John Corey comes to understand himself. Fast-paced and atmospheric, marked by entrancing characters, incandescent storytelling, and brilliant comic touches, Plum Island is Nelson DeMille at his thrill-inducing best.
Nelson DeMille's narrative engine is one of the best in the business, and it chugs away in grand style in this story of buried treasure and biological warfare on a tiny spit of land off Long Island. As told by a wry, wounded New York City detective who is drafted to explore a couple of murders, Plum Island is a rich pudding of flavorful (if familiar) ingredients, including a ferocious storm at sea. Other DeMille epics in paperback include By the Rivers of Babylon, The General's Daughter, The Gold Coast, Spencerville, and Word of Honor.
From Library Journal
While investigating the murder of a young Long Island couple, an NYPD detective is stunned to find that they may have been involved in dealing genetically altered viruses. A 500,000-copy first printing. Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
This is the first DeMille book I have read and I loved it. I have subsequently read "The Gold Coast" and "The Charm School" both of which I enjoyed but not as much as I enjoyed reading Plum Island. First of all, the setting. DeMille describes a charming east Long Island that I never paid much attention to (I travel through Orient Point a half a dozen times a year). We receive an interesting portrayal of the quaint villages, the local flavor, and the snotty wine growers. DeMille also gives the reader a dose of the history of the area describing the early times when pirate landed on its shores. Then there is Plum Island itself which I will gaze at more closely now each time I pass it on the ferry. The characters are well developed. John Corey, the lead character, is this off-duty detective who gets caught up in this mystery. He's brash, sometimes rude, prefers a good beer to a vintage glass of wine and is very likeable. The other characters, including the minor ones, are defined enough to feel like you know them. The plot. I won't give anything away. ..just a good mystery that leads you down a few different directions.
Take Michael Connelly's Detective Harry Bosch, a hard-boiled, talented, nearly burnt-out loner with lots of psychological baggage and absolutely no respect for superiors or procedure. Add the self-deprecating faux stumble-bum approach of Peter Falk's Columbo and toss in a heaping helping of smart-aleck motor mouth Rodney Dangerfield complete inability to control the flow of virulent sarcasm and wisecracks! Sounds a little much, doesn't it? But he's our hero for Nelson DeMille's "Plum Island".
John Corey, NYPD homicide detective, is on medical leave recovering from bullet wounds when his friend, chief of the Southold Police Department, enlists his aid looking into the double homicide of Tom and Judy Gordon, also friends of Corey, and employees of Plum Island, the nearby high-level bio-containment facility studying deadly animal diseases such as anthrax and simian Ebola. First terrifying appearances were that some sort of biological terrorist threat had gone sour but the old rule of "follow the money" lead to a somewhat more tolerable line of investigation. It seemed the Gordons had stolen a vaccine with the motive of peddling it to the pharmaceutical world for billions.
But Corey's in-your-face persistence was uncovering clues and details that just didn't seem to mesh with that story. Simple drug-running was a possibility but even that didn't quite click. Eventually, Corey uncovers an amazingly entertaining story of greed, money, murder, mayhem and political skullduggery spanning three hundred years of history and ranging geographically from New York, to the Caribbean, to England and back again.
In a style that reminded me of Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child's incurable penchant for technical sidebars, DeMille has tossed off a bewildering variety of essays that entertained, informed and, at the same time, moved the story forward. The staged lecture tour of Plum Island's hazardous facility, hosted first by Security Chief Paul Stevens and followed by the facility's director Dr Zollner was worth the reading of the book all by itself. But you'll also be treated to snippets of detail on coastal marine navigation, a cornucopia of procedural information on the necessary foundation police work to solving a homicide and (are you ready for this?) a rather extensive history of Captain Kidd and his 17th century privateering exploits that ultimately ended in his execution in England!
Lots of promise to be sure and there's certainly no doubt about DeMille's skill as a writer! But, just as a little bit of someone like John Corey would go a long, long way in real life, his constant cracking wise left me cold on the printed page as well! If DeMille had seen his way to lopping 100 pages off the final draft, it would have been just right and I would have ended the story not only entertained by the police procedural but laughing at Corey's antics in the bargain. Just three stars but recommended as a quick and entertaining piece of brain candy anyway! Enjoy!
This was fun. The main character (John Corey) is an over-confident wise-guy detective who thinks he's God's gift to women. His arrogance is funny. The pace of the book is very good. It's 500 pages, but it's still a quick read. There were a few flaws, but they were minor. Corey is meant to be recovering from a gunshot wound (through the lung?) but throughout the book he exerts himself way beyond what he should be able to do. DeMille fails to explain the origins of a vital letter at the end. Some sequences are not believable, like the speedboat ride through a hurricane, where the characters are still able to carry on a light-hearted conversation despite being blasted with smashing waves and hurricane winds. Overall, it was well worth the read. I laughed out loud several times. This was my first DeMille, but I'll be looking for more.
Plum Island is my third Nelson DeMille book and like the previous two I've read (Gold Coast and Charm School), it's a little long winded, probably 100 pages longer than it needed to be, but the primary character, John Corey is his best character to date. I agree with other reviewers that he is arrogant, but he is pretty funny with his sarcasm, which makes him tolerable when the story drags. The storyline, which deals with the murder of employees of Plum Island, where work is done with hazardous materials (including anthrax) is obviously very timely today. It makes a lot more sense today than in 1997 when this book was first published. You get to learn a little about this stuff, so DeMille's research doesn't go to waste here. I found fault with DeMille's decision to let Corey figure out who the criminal was midway through the book and then spending the rest of the book showing how he gets this person. It would have been nice if he threw in a plot twist somewhere later to shake things up and add some suspense, but it's a good book that will lead me to read The Lion's Game (another Corey book) in the future.
This book had such great reviews I settled in for a fine scientific mystery. At the beginning it was clear the writer was gifted, had some wry obvservations,and the protagonist was a Spenser-like gumshoe. But it didn't take long to realize that the book needed serious editing- who wants to read endless chit-chat about virtually nothing except cheap and gratuitous insults from a cop we don't like? All this during what should be an exciting part- a tour of a biohazard facility- that's so boring it feels like we're stuck on an actual, interminable tour, with the tourguide being a sexist throwback who thinks he's way too clever. (DeMille writes ironically, "I felt a sudden panic attack coming on. Here I was trapped in a small bus with this monotonal, monochromatic moron." I can relate!) The tour goes on for SIX chapters and NOTHING interesting happens- and it turns out to have nothing to do with the plot! We miss you, Michael Crichton! It's nothing but self-indulgent wisecrack dialogue from this creepy cop. Robert Parker's Spenser made fun of pretentious people with an insight and sophistication that had us rooting for him; this guy is rude and crude to everyone and makes us cringe. While Spenser had some mild girl-watching qualities there was self-mockery there; I cannot believe the hamhanded sexist remarks, jokes that would make a hormonal teenager cringe, and jarring descriptions of the guy's private parts in this book. But the unpardonable sin is that the book needs editing with a meat cleaver. You're buying a thriller and you get long, long passages about the history of everything on Long Island, paragraph after paragraph of random observations with no action, boring interviews that seem to go nowhere etc. I started skimming paragraphs, then pages, then chapters, and halfway through abandoned the whole thing. I would say the plot lacked any coherence but there's very little plot, just a writer who thinks his discursive thoughts are way more intersting than they actually are.Read more ›
I was born in New York City in 1943. My father was a Canadian, serving at that time with the American Navy, and my mother was a Brooklyn native, trying to figure out how to grow a Victory Garden for the war effort.
My family moved to Elmont, Long Island, New York in 1947 where my father was a house builder, and my mother was a homemaker raising four boys. I attended Elmont public schools, played football, ran track, and was on the wrestling team. I graduated Elmont Memorial High School in 1962 and spent the summer at the beach.
I attended Hofstra University, but left before graduation to join the Army in 1966. I served three years in the United States Army as an infantry lieutenant and spent one year in Vietnam as a platoon leader with the First Cavalry Division. You'll see that I used this experience in my novels "Word of Honor" and "Up Country."
After the end of my military service, I returned to Hofstra where I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and History. I married and had two children, Lauren and Alex, and eventually divorced.
I held a series of good and bad jobs between 1970 and 1974, and in that year, for some reason I can't remember, I decided to be a writer. My first books were paperback originals, New York City police detective novels, thankfully all out of print and hard to find.
In 1978, I published my first major novel, "By the Rivers of Babylon," which was a commercial and critical success. Since then, I've written fourteen other novels and had a good time creating my characters John Corey, Ben Tyson (played by Don Johnson in the TNT movie of "Word of Honor"), foxy Emma Whitestone, Paul Brenner (played by John Travolta in the Paramount movie of "The General's Daughter"), sexy Susan Sutter, the never-say-die CIA officer Ted Nash, and my favorite villain, Asad Khalil, a misunderstood Libyan terrorist with unresolved childhood issues.
I am a member of The Authors Guild, the Mystery Writers of America (past President), American Mensa (thank God I don't have to retake that test), and I hold three honorary doctorate degrees (thank God I didn't have to study for them) from Hofstra University, Long Island University, and Dowling College. I'm married to the love of my life, Sandy Dillingham, whom I met while I was on a publicity tour in Denver. We have a son, James, two years old, and he's keeping me young.
There's more about me on my website. Thanks for reading about me here, and I hope you enjoy my novels.