Keeping with the spirit of good author/book reviews I’ve got another one for you. I have just finished two of Nelson DeMille’s novels since they were recommended to me by a friend. It’s not unusual for me to write about things that would piss the government off but it is unusual when I think writing a book review might make me disappear but I think that is more of a compliment to Mr. DeMille than it is a fear of the government. The two books I read were Up Country and Night Fall but for this review I’m going to stick to the book that made me remember a tragic incident and propose an alternate theory that is far more believable than the government one.
This book is an absolute masterpiece and I burned through close to 900 pages in less than a week. It was insanely fast reading for me but I was hooked, curious and lastly disturbed. I wasn’t disturbed because the book was horrifyingly graphic but because what I was reading was based off a real event in American history. Actually two events if you count the ending. The first event is the TWA 800 disaster of July 17, 1996 and the book covers both the government explanation as well as the missile theory. This is going to sound terrible but I actually forgot about TWA 800 and all 230 people who were killed when it exploded over the Atlantic Ocean. Maybe it’s because it was before 9/11 and my mind forgot about “accidents” and started to focus on terrorism. In any case one of the best things about this book is that while reading it I started to get memories back that were pulled from some dark abyss of my mind. These things in conjunction to what the book was proposing made me scratch my chin on more than one occasion.
TWA 800 is officially a closed case. A disaster that was caused by something as simple as a spark near or in an empty fuel tank. After four years of investigating and multiple theories the government settled on mechanical failure as to why the jet blew up in midair. The problem however is that in their reasoning for why it exploded they completely discredited hundreds of witnesses who saw a streak of light, a missile or something heading at a high rate of speed toward the aircraft just before it exploded. Not to mention that the CIA was very involved in this case. That along with a few other details made many scream cover up and conspiracy.
While reading Night Fall one of the things that came back to me and stuck out the clearest from my jumbled thoughts was the knowledge that the CIA had actually released an animation explaining why they were right and the eyewitnesses were wrong. I don’t remember thinking that was weird then but I certainly did while reading this book and I did again after watching the animation 12 years after its release (which you can watch below). This animation said that the streak of light that the eyewitnesses thought was a missile going towards the plane was actually burning jet fuel falling down from the plane. I thought it was hilarious and so did the lead character; Detective/ATTF agent John Corey. How do you forget which way is up and which is down? “This way is up right?” Apparently that was enough to satisfy the news media however and shortly afterwards the story died off and people moved on except for those who know what they saw and of course the victims’ families. A fairly successful cover up if you believe there was one.
Detective John Corey is hilarious, determined, egotistical, sexist and everything you’d expect from a 30 year NYPD detective who has been shot in the line of duty and forced to work with Feds. He is a no bullshit kind of guy and that is what made him the perfect man to dig into the mystery of TWA 800. However sticking your nose into what appears to be an accident to please your wife isn’t always as easy as it seems. Corey quickly finds himself and his FBI agent wife, Kate Mayfield, being shut down and warned/threatened to stay away from the case. Of course that only pissed Corey off and made him that much more determined to solve this case whether it is an accident or murder. The CIA doesn’t take kindly to this.
Without spoiling the book for you things get ugly and fast and it culminates on a date that all Americans will remember for the rest of their lives. I saw the ending coming because Detective John Corey had taught me some detective sills along the way but I found myself burning through the last 100 pages like the book was burning. I think my hands were even shaking at one point but it might have been a lack of food because I hadn’t eaten since I picked the book up. I was pissed, irritated, curious and even more skeptical of my government than before. I’m not a conspiracy theorist in theory but this made me want to look out the windows for Black Helicopters.
The best part of the book was that it made me remember this disaster and it made me think outside the box the entire time. I kept asking myself is this possible? Afterwards I searched TWA 800 and read through the Wiki page and discovered that what the book presented wasn’t made up. The missile theory was an actual theory, there are witnesses who still swear they saw a missile, light or whatever and the CIA did release that stupid animation. Not only that but the FBI redacted reports for the public, any evidence of explosives was explained away by groups who shouldn’t have been involved unless they wanted you to think they were doing all they could and lastly its the United States government. Since when do they not lie to us?
When I started reading the book I had really no memory of TWA 800 and when I finished the book I had all the information I wanted. Officially it was an accident, a terrible disaster but I frankly believe there was a cover up and a missile. Just because the CIA says the eyewitnesses were upside down doesn’t mean I’ll believe them and frankly after reading Night Fall I don’t believe them. Sadly I’m not Detective John Corey nor am I married to an FBI agent whom have the resources to investigate this and if you read it you might not want to even if you had all the resources in the world.
I strongly recommend this book!
Five years later, the fate of TWA Flight 800 has been attributed to a mechanical malfunction. But for John Corey and his wife Kate Mayfield, both members of the elite Anti-Terrorist Task Force, the case is not closed. Suspicious of a cover-up, they set out to find the one piece of evidence that will prove their theory—that at least two other people are determined to keep hidden: a videotape of the unbelievable truth. Source: Nelson DeMille
His mission: investigate a murder that took place during the war, thirty years before. But almost as soon as he returns to Vietnam, a country that still haunts him, he discovers that there is more to this investigation than a forgotten murder-much more. Brenner, former combat veteran, again finds himself in a battle for survival as he enters a world of corruption and double-crosses, where, for the second time in his life, he cannot distinguish friend from foe, and where his only allies are his wits and his bravery-and possibly a beautiful American expatriate named Susan Weber. She, like the country in which she’s chosen to live, is exotic, sensual, and quite possibly dangerous. Source: Nelson DeMille