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Night Fall
By Nelson DeMille

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Night Fall: A Novel

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Night Fall: A Novel
By Nelson Demille
Warner Books - Large Print Edition (2004)
ISBN: 0-446-57714-6
Genre: Thriller

Reviewed by Rochelle Caviness - February 4, 2005

Former New York City Homicide Detective John Corey has served as the protagonist in several of Nelson Demille's bestselling novels. He is back again in Demille's Night Fall. Corey is currently working as a contract agent with the Federal Anti-Terrorist Task Force in NYC, and if the truth were told, he doesn't have a lot on his plate. His search for Asad Khalil has drawn to a standstill and he's a bit bored. On the fifth anniversary of the destruction of TWA Flight 800, Corey and his second wife, FBI Special Agent Kate Mayfield, attend the annual memorial service for the victims of the tragedy. Mayfield uses the memorial service as the carrot to entice Corey into conducting his own investigation into what caused Flight 800 to explode in midair - killing all 203 souls onboard. The official cause of the loss of TWA Flight 800 was listed as mechanical failure. However, there were hundreds of witnesses that claimed they saw, what could best be described as a missile, hit the plane.

No one in the FBI or any other government agency wants the case reopened, and the only way that the cause of the crash would ever be reevaluated is if someone found the proverbial smoking gun. Spurred on by his wife, an FBI colleague's warning him to stay away from the case is enough to get Corey very interested finding out if there was a governmental conspiracy to cover-up the 'real' cause of the destruction of TWA Flight 800.

The destruction of TWA Flight 800 was a real-life tragedy. On July 17, 1996, the flight took off from JFK International Airport, headed toward Paris, France. About ten minutes into the flight the plane exploded. There were no survivors. At the time of the crash, there was a range of theories circulating as to the cause of the accident that ranged from pilot error to the flight being taken down by a ground-to-air missile. After extensive investigation, the loss of Flight 800 was officially declared to be the result of mechanical failure. To this day, there are still individuals who feel that the real cause of the accident was a terrorist attack.

Demille takes on a touchy subject by writing a novel based on such a horrific tragedy, yet he handled it well. Throughout his writing shows compassion to the families that lost loved ones and he is sensitive to the memory of those that were lost. In addition, this book does not sensationalize the tragedy, rather it focuses on investigations taking place years after the initial event, and highlights the fact that many people still feel that there are unanswered questions about the accident. Working from the haunting reality of what happen off the coast of Long Island in 1996, Demille provides an intriguing glimpse into what might happen if credible evidence existed that pointed to another cause for the loss of TWA Flight 800. Demille has crafted an entertaining thriller that follows Corey has he hunts for the truth while at the same time dodging those in the FBI that would rather see him disappear than get to the truth of the matter. And the truth is, at least in this fictional account, that an adulterous couple was on the beach videotaping themselves having sex at the moment of plane exploded. They may, or may not, have caught the whole incident on tape. If they did, their video tape might provide conclusive proof on how the plane was brought down - if Corey can find the couple, and if they still have a copy of the tape.

Night Fall is an intriguing story that is made even more compelling by the very fact that at its basis, this is a story well grounded in fact. There are, however, some drawbacks to the story. Firstly, except for the first chapter, it is written entirely in the first person so the only perspective you get in the story is Corey's. In addition, this story contains some graphic sexual scenes and adult situations and it includes an annoying amount of swearing. The F-word is used, in one form or another on just about every other page and other swear words are liberally scattered throughout the book. A fair amount of swearing would be in line with the characteristics of many of the characters in the book. However, I feel that the amount used by Demille was excessive to the point of distracting from the story. Other than these small technical points, I felt that this was an entertaining book that is a great addition to the Corey series.

Corey is an irreverent and fascinating character that I hope Demille will bring back again. If you've not read any of the Demille's books featuring Corey, namely Plum Island and The Lion's Game, don't worry. This book is totally self-contained and can be read independently of the other Corey books.

Warning: This book contains explicit adult situations, strong language, and deals with subject matter that many readers may find upsetting in light of the destruction of TWA Flight 800 and 9/11.

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