Featured Author Nelson DeMille
“In the rarefied world of the intelligent thriller, authors just don’t get any better than Nelson DeMille.”
— Denver Post
For author Nelson DeMille, intrigue and suspense can occur just about anywhere — from a small town in Ohio to a high society mansion on Long Island, from the verdant jungles of Vietnam to the urban jungles of New York City. And with more than a dozen best-selling novels to his credit and in excess of 30 million books in print worldwide, it’s clear that DeMille’s brand of fast-paced fiction resonates with readers who relish the gritty combination of vibrant authenticity and sardonic humor that have become DeMille’s trademarks.
Born in New York City in 1943, DeMille served in Vietnam from 1966 to 1969, an experience he translated into an early, critically-acclaimed novel, Word of Honor (1985.) The novel was highly autobiographical, according to DeMille, populated with characters based on people he knew and combat situations he encountered. Having risen to the rank of lieutenant, DeMille was eager to portray the unique position and challenges faced by officers in Vietnam. The result was, in the words of one reviewer for Publishers Weekly, “Riveting. If fiction can assuage the lingering moral pain of the Vietnam War, it’s through the kind of driving honesty coupled with knowledgeability that DeMille employs here.”
As influential as the Vietnam War has been on DeMille’s fiction, however, it is his home town of New York City that most impacts the way he sees the world and how he communicates those observations. In what DeMille has called his attempt to write a book that would be “taken seriously,” The Gold Coast (1990) examines the lofty world of Long Island’s society enclaves. Characterizing it as a “page-turner that we want to linger and re-read,” critics deemed DeMille to be “as keen a social satirist as Edith Wharton.”
DeMille moves his action to New York City proper for two of his most popular novels, Plum Island (1997) and The Lion’s Game (2000). Both feature protagonist John Corey, one of DeMille’s most compelling characters, and one whom the author says is most like himself. Known for his buoyant wit and carefree disdain for the straight-and-narrow, ex-NYPD homicide detective Corey diffuses tense situations with a wry sense of humor that brings “an agreeable counterpoint to all the machinations” necessary in the thriller genre, according to Linda Richards in January Magazine.
On his way to becoming a novelist after his tour of duty in Vietnam and 1970 graduation from Hofstra University, DeMille worked at a variety of jobs, from carpenter’s apprentice to stable boy, deck hand to insurance investigator. In addition to his novels, he has written The Five Million Dollar Woman: Barbara Walters under the pseudonym “Ellen Kay;” Killer Sharks: The Real Story under the pseudonym “Brad Matthews;” and a children’s play based on the “Rumpelstiltskin “ fairy tale. His novel, The General’s Daughter, was made into a film starring John Travolta, and an adaptation of Word of Honor appeared on TNT cable television in 2003.
By the Rivers of Babylon (1978) LP
Mayday (1979) LP
Cathedral (1981) LP
The Talbot Odyssey (1984) ***
Word of Honor (1985) **, ***
The Charm School (1989) ***
The Gold Coast (1990)
The General’s Daughter (1992)
Spencerville (1994) ***
Plum Island (1997) **
The Lion’s Game (2000) LP
Up Country (2002) **, LP
Night Fall (2004) **, ***, LP
Wild Fire (2006) **, ***, LP, Playaway
** Also available as a cassette audiobook
*** Also available as a CD audiobook