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The Quest: A Novel Paperback – June 24, 2014

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Here’s something you don’t see all that often: a successful writer hauling out one of his old books and rewriting it. The Quest, originally published as a mass-market paperback in 1975, was DeMille’s first novel. In some ways, it anticipated the current spate of thrillers whose plots involve a historical mystery, frequently with a religious component: a trio of journalists, covering the Ethiopian civil war, stumble onto what could be the key to one of history’s greatest puzzles, the location of the fabled Holy Grail. What’s especially interesting here is that the author has rewritten the book, apparently rather extensively (the original paperback edition ran to 255 pages, while the new galley circulated for review clocks in at nearly 460), but he hasn’t updated it. It’s still set in the mid-1970s, and it still feels like a book written at that time, although fans of the author’s recent work will note DeMille’s familiar deft characterizations and lively dialogue. A full-fledged new DeMille novel or a historical curiosity? You be the judge. --David Pitt --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


Nelson DeMille wrote THE QUEST nearly 40 years ago. It has been fully rewritten, showcasing this masterful author's historical knowledge, understanding of the human psyche, and matchless entertainment skills. The novel crosses genres with its spiritualism, wit, adventure and romance, not to mention gripping action. Full of DeMille's characteristic --- and unparalleled --- humor and intelligence, THE QUEST delivers. Boy, does it deliver.

Nelson DeMille is at the absolute peak of his powers in "The Quest" (Center Street, 464 pages, $26) an epic tale that's broad in both scope and vision, harkening back to his earlier masterworks such as "The Charm School" and "By the Rivers of Babylon" as it brings the action in Africa of the mid-1970s. That's where an old priest named Father Armando emerges from a bombed-out prison after decades in captivity with the location of nothing less than the Holy Grail tucked in his mind.

From there, staged against the backdrop of the endless Ethiopian civil war, the quest of the title begins in search of it, undertaken by a trio of intrepid journalists (well, two plus a photographer), including the hard-bitten and hard-driving Frank Purcell, who's standing in for DeMille's redoubtable John Corey this time out. Purcell becomes our Robert Langdon as the book takes on the texture and feel of Dan Brown at his level best, chock full of mysticism, murderous monks, deadly assassins, and vengeful natives all on a quest to either find the Grail or make sure its secrets remain hidden forever.

This is adventure on the grandest of scales and richest of tapestries, Wilbur Smith and Fredrick Forsythe rolled into one with some Indian Jones tossed in for good measure. A masterpiece fashioned by a storyteller who simply has no rival.
Providence Sunday Journal

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Center Street; Reprint edition (June 24, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1455503169
  • ISBN-13: 978-1455503162
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1.2 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,241 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #167,009 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

582 of 616 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Gerrie Colombraro on September 21, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
I am a long standing Nelson DeMille fan, and was eagerly anticipating his "newest" book "The Quest".
When I finally got it on my kindle, I cracked it open almost immediately and settled in for an all nighter.
A couple of hours and 125 pages later, I was so disappointed with this book, I found myself googing for more info.....and that's when I discovered it had been written 40 years ago.
DeMille pompously admits to "updating" it by adding "more sex".....seriously!?!?!
It is a total ripoff and I may never read anything he writes ever again, that's how angry I am at being duped.
If I could have given it "zero" stars, I would have; without that option, I gave it the lowest rating possible.

Amazon, thank you for refunding my money; as always, you are a pleasure to work with.

Save your money, folks, and skip this one; too many great books out there waiting for us!
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295 of 318 people found the following review helpful By C.Livingston on September 19, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Bought the book and I'm reading it thinking, 'Did DeMille REALLY write this?'. It's nothing like his other books. Wooden characters, stilted dialog, cliché after cliché. I couldn't believe it. It felt like a first time novel. I check and double check the publication date, and while I'm digging I find a note from the author saying how he had written a 'version' of this book over 40 years ago. That explains it. Somebody (?) raided DeMille's trashcan and put this out (again), passing it off as the latest novel by Nelson DeMille. I've always enjoyed DeMille's humor. I feel like this joke is on me and it's not funny.
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170 of 190 people found the following review helpful By MRuege on September 22, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
Absolutely one of my favorite authors ever, so it is painful to give it 1star. Per many other reviewers it seems like this was a rewrite/rehash from a 30-40 year old book. Many reviewers have complained about the cost and being duped, I am only complaining because of the anticipation of reading a great new book by this author and getting very little. I hope a new book is on the way soon as I miss his incredible storytelling. I think N.D. owes it to his loyal fan base to give us something new and brilliant as usual so we can forgive what seems a little disingenuous per the descriptions by Amazon or the Publisher. Let us know upfront it is an old book and then let us decide if we want to make the leap. This is the first book I have ever just fast forwarded through pages because it was so......????
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131 of 146 people found the following review helpful By Brian Baker VINE VOICE on September 21, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I've been reading Demille's books for decades, since his "By the Rivers of Babylon" came out back in the late 70s. I didn't think much of that book, but over the years he gained a lot of skill and usually his books are very enjoyable (with a few exceptions). I usually buy his newest on the day of its release.

I was looking forward to "The Quest" as the blurb sounded like an intriguing mix of adventure, politics, and maybe some mythology thrown in for good measure.

Imagine my surprise, after I got it and started reading it, in finding out in the very first few pages that this book is actually one he wrote BEFORE his usually-acknowledged "first" book, "Babylon". It actually precedes the publication of that book by three years - published in 1975 as opposed to "Babylon's" 1978 (according to Wikipedia) - and enjoyed a very limited release which promptly (and understandably) sank out of sight.

Wouldn't you think that the fact that it's a recycling of his first failed attempt at authorship would be a germane tidbit of information potential buyers might like to know? I sure would. And yet not one word about that little factoid in either the Amazon product description nor the book's flyleaf. You have to actually start reading the book before you find that out, which means you've more than likely already bought it. In which case, sad news for YOU.

Had I known that, I wouldn't have bothered with this book. I thought "Babylon" was trite, neither well-written nor polished, with shallow characterizations and a simplistic plot. But THIS book makes it look like classic literature by comparison.
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74 of 82 people found the following review helpful By stevi on September 26, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
Whew--after reading many folks' reviews of Nelson deMille's "The Quest", I was relieved to know it wasn't just me having such a disappointed reaction. I, too, am longtime lover of deMille's works, especially his earlier works (much more intricate and well-constructed). I just wish I'd read the reviews first, and I wouldn't have bothered paying the money. If you love deMille, don't bother with The Quest---you could be reading any ol' generic writer for dumbed-down readers. My first clue was reading "The Panther"---that was pretty watered down too. But when one is a loyal fan, one wants to give the author benefit of the doubt. No more. Plenty of great authors out there who actually work hard and produce great stuff. Bummer.
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34 of 36 people found the following review helpful By mari on September 27, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I've always enjoyed DeMille's novels for their clever plot twists and taut prose. Plus, I grew up in the town DeMille currently resides in so I recognized many Long Island details in previous books like Plum Island.

Sadly, this book is pathetic. Badly written, stuffed with irrelevant, hackneyed details, shallow and unbelievable characters, and uninteresting action.

I pre-ordered it, expecting a treat. Burnt offerings, instead.

Why would a respected author put his name to such a travesty??? Has he no self-respect? How does he want to be remembered?

A double whammy... turns out this is a retread of a failure. DeMille's loyal readers don't deserve that.

My first review ever. Had a duty to warn the gullible public.
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