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Former Army lieutenant Nelson DeMille is the bestselling author of numerous series and novels. Originally published in 1994, Spencerville is DeMille's latest stand-alone novel.
Keith Landry has just retired after spending 25 years doing espionage work for the United States government. With his high school sweetheart - Annie Baxter - fresh on his mind, Keith is deciding to return to and settle down in his hometown of Spencerville, a small Ohio farming town. However, once Keith arrives in town, he realizes that Spencerville has become poisoned over the years thanks to the town's corrupt, local police force. Even worse yet, the man in charge of the police force is Sheriff Cliff Baxter - Annie's husband.
Undeniably still in love with one another, Keith and Annie make plans to run away and spend the rest of their lives together, but only if they can escape and defeat the sick and twisted Sheriff Baxter for good.
Having seen DeMille's novels everywhere over the years, I was excited to experience his work for the first time; however, my excitement fell flat upon reading the first few chapters of Spencerville. With my paperback copy of Spencerville sitting right at over 550 pages, I am still wondering how in the world I was able to finish the entire book!
The novel begins on an intriguing note, and tells the story from each main character's point of view, which gives us complete insight into every character and their motives. After the first few chapters, Spencerville is strictly told from Keith's point of view until the very end when the novel reaches its apex.
At first glance, the novel seems as if it will be action-packed from start to finish, with the bad-ass, espionage-experienced Keith giving Sheriff Baxter a run for his money. Disappointingly, Keith is not as smart and bad-ass as you would hope, as the small-time Sheriff Baxter and his henchmen get to Keith several times throughout the novel. At many times, I found myself craving some Lee-Child-Jack-Reacher action.
There are also not just a few, but TONS, of meaningless flashbacks and scenes in general that have NOTHING to do with the core plot of the novel. The novel periodically dips into long, boring glimpses of Keith's memories with Annie during the 1960s, and segues into long, boring ramblings about Keith's political views and opinions. This aspect becomes very evident and frustrating when you reach the novel's end, and truly realize how much of the story was irrelevant and a complete waste of time.
I regret to say that Spencerville did not live up to its hype - nor the hype surrounding Nelson DeMille. Therefore, I would not recommend this book to ANYBODY.
Upon mentioning this novel to a friend several decades older than myself (and a reliable source when it comes to great novels), I was surprised to hear that DeMille truly has written some fascinating work in his time. I would love to know what these novels are specifically, so I can give DeMille a second chance.
Nelson Demille's most recent works include the books in his John Corey series. The series begins with Plum Island (1997), then follows with The Lion's Game (2000), Night Fall (2004), Wild Fire (2006), The Lion (2010), and Panther (2012).
Click on any of the books below to read more about them on Amazon.com.
What are your favorite novels by Nelson DeMille? Please share them with us in the comments section below so we can give them a try!