The first book I read by Mr. DeMille was Spencerville some years back. It was good enough to make me want to read "The General's Daughter" and that really impressed me. So I tried a couple of other books by him, coming to expect the same level of liking from everything he wrote. "The Lion's Game" however was totally different from everything I read till now.
The most obvious feature was the narration from the bad guy's point of view. So much, that at times, it felt more like his book than John's, with Asad Khalil doing his best to avoid getting captured and making the police, FBI, CIA and every other American organisation seem incompetent. And just how John mentioned in the book, I was looking forward to him going out on the streets, hot on the trail of Asad, not sitting at a desk, going to meetings, flirting the hell out of his partner, exchanging witty retorts heavy with sarcasm and waiting for something to drop in his lap. While I do love his (sometimes dark) humour and sarcasm, it gets boring when the book doesn't include anything else.
I was touched by Asad's story, the way he lost his family and appreciated the genius of the author in the way he shaped Khalil's personality and way of thinking so that each of his actions was justified and righteous. He was the perfect assassin. No doubt about that. Calm, assured, confident, capable, detached. The perfect killing machine. The only discrepancy I could find was when he was told of the affair between his mother and Gadhafi and he showed strong emotions in an otherwise perfectly controlled behavior (though I remember that he knew of the relationship when he was young). And I can't decide how I feel about his escape. On the one hand, I am sure he would not have surrendered to the authorities but on the other hand (as Kate said) how can you let someone like that go?
Another mystery turned out to be John and Kate relationship. I was a bit surprised by the marriage proposal since I didn't sense that much feeling between the two (other than the sexual tension). But then again, perhaps it was too subtle for me.
Another thing. I appreciate DeMille's attention to detail and accuracy, but as a layman to military and American geography, it seems a bit excessive and I found it distracting. It pulled me out of the book when I couldn't figure out what DeMille was trying to describe or whether the characters were going in the right direction or not.
But overall, it is a strong book. And the author captured the essence of geopolitical relations before 9.11 (albeit portraying America a bit too idealistic). There were many facets to the story, striking characters and a well executed hunt (from whichever point you want to look at it). So for that, it gets a 3 star rating from me.