18 November 2008

Review: Plum Island by Nelson DeMille

Thrice-shot Manhattan homicide detective John Corey escaped to his uncle's house on the north shore of Long Island for a little R&R. After a summer in the small community, Corey is beginning to make friends and enjoy his afternoons sitting on the deck, watching the ocean, and sipping a cold beer. One late-summer day, Max, local chief of police, drops by to see Corey. Mutual friends of theirs, Tom and Judy Gordon, have been found in their backyard, each shot in the head. Max asks for Corey's help.

Were the attractive, well-liked Gordons victims of a simple robbery gone bad? Or did their murder have something to do with their work on Plum Island, a high-security federal biological research station off the coast of Long Island? And how did the Gordons manage to own an expensive speed boat and attend high-society wine-tasting parties on their research-scientist salaries?

Corey teams up with Beth Penrose, a local detective working her first homicide, to find out what happened to the young couple. Despite being on disability leave and out of his jurisdiction, Corey cannot walk away from the case. He finds himself delving into a wide range of seemingly unrelated issues: local history, homeland security, and the life of the rich and not famous.

Meeting John Corey is just as interesting as getting to the bottom of the case. We wonder if he knows what he's doing or if he's just about making wise cracks and finding his next beer or woman. After all, Corey seems to rely heavily on instinct and quickly dismisses simpler, more obvious solutions. For the first three quarters of the novel, Corey interviews suspects, witnesses, and friends of the Gordons. He learns about the town, Long Island, Plum Island, and local lore. Once Corey is pretty sure he has it figured out, he must prove his theory--and we're there all the way to the dramatic end.

Plum Island is bit out my usual cozy mystery genre, but I was taken in by the story and especially by Corey and his sarcastic sense of humor. DeMille's characters were complex enough to keep me guessing: Were the Gordons good or evil, savvy or naive? Are the FBI guys doing their job or covering something up? Is Corey insightful or totally off the wall? I recommend Plum Island, and I will likely read more John Corey books.

Scott Brick did a brilliant job of reading this unabridged audiobook. The way he set the mood with his voice couldn't have been better; the pacing of the narration was perfect. I have rated the book B+, but I rate the reading A+.

Audiobook published by Books on Tape, 2004.
ISBN-13: 97804466055403
Challenge: 25 Books
Rating B+


Anonymous,  11/18/08, 10:37 AM  

I really like Nelson DeMille's work, but haven't read this one yet. Thanks for the review.

Michele 11/18/08, 12:30 PM  

I am a tremendous fan of Nelson DeMille....I believe he writes some of the sharpest dialogue in fiction today. I haven't tried an audiobook of his, yet, though. Perhaps I should!

Lori 11/19/08, 2:28 PM  

Wow, sounds like you really enjoyed the book. Thanks for your review.

Anonymous,  11/19/08, 11:41 PM  

I know I would love this as I love any mystery.

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