On July 17th 1996, a Boeing 747-131 flying from JFK airport, New York to Paris, TWA 800 exploded mid air 12 minutes after take off, killing all 230 souls on board. On the fifth anniversary of this tragedy, ex-NYPD detective, John Corey attends a memorial services with his wife, FBI agent Kate Mayfield. Afterwards John Corey begins to look into what happened on July 17th, 1996 and tries to find the answers that were missing five years ago.
TWA 800 did explode off the coast of Long Island in 1996 and while the official verdict has always been an spark ignited fuel vapors, many have looked for other answers. If you Google TWA 800 you will find a lot of reading material, some official, some not so official, but you will get a lot of it. There is always a danger when a writer takes a real life event such as this and puts it into a fictional novel that the facts will get shifted around to fit the plot or artistic liberties will resolve problems that in real life were unresolved. Nelson DeMille handles this issue with great care and skill, never seeming to take advantage of what happened as anything other than an important part of the plot.
If you have read Nelson DeMille novels before then the enjoyable characters will be no surprise to you. John Corey is still the head strong, flawed but loveable ex-NYPD cop who tends to do the opposite to whatever someone tells him to do. Kate Mayfield, his wife, balances out the relationship with level headedness that keeps the pair on track. While they are so different to each other, it is completely believable that they are a married couple.
As with the previous John Corey book, The Lion’s Game, Night Fall builds up slowly, giving the reader time to get the lay of the land before things begin to speed up. DeMille seems to take his time, making sure that everything is ready before the action starts and it helps the reader understand exactly what is going on. As plots go, it isn’t a wildly meandering plot line, it’s told in the first person (Corey) and it is a most satisfactory read.
A good book makes you want to read it again. A great book takes your breath away and leaves you shaken. Night Fall does this with it’s last two chapters. It is difficult to explain just why this happens without giving it away so just rest assured that the ending of Night Fall will have you thinking long after you have closed it’s cover.