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The Deserter

by Nelson DeMille

This week: Ed Wood, Editorial Director of Sphere, is doing the recommending.

Nelson DeMille has decades of amazing thriller novels under his belt, all filled with dry, sometimes cheeky wit, compassion and fantastic set pieces. The Deserter is no different – but it is the first novel he has co-written since 1998’s Mayday, and this time it’s significant: his co-author is his son, Alex, whose screenwriting credentials bring with them a healthy dollop of cinematic atmosphere.

DeMille fans can rest easy though, as the master’s voice is very much intact. Taking inspiration from the real-life Beau Bergdahl case (which was also the subject of the hit podcast Serial in its second season), The Deserter sees military cop Scott Brodie and special agent Maggie Taylor on the hunt for one Kyle Mercer, an ex-Delta Force captain who has disappeared and thought to be hiding out in Caracas, Venezuela. Their zippy dialogue (Brodie all swagger and sarcasm, Taylor earnest and heartfelt) is very much classic Nelson DeMille.

The book excels in the tension of simply being in such a dangerous location: it really does feel as though danger is around every corner. The DeMilles have deep sympathy for the everyday people suffering under the regime (and little for the power games of world powers), all the while channelling their heroes towards the inevitable stand-off with Mercer. And that climax, as ever, does not disappoint. Great stuff.


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