Book Reviews

Book Review: The Talbot Odyssey by Nelson DeMille

Sometimes you know what inspired a story. Having lived for 39 years on Long Island, I remember the days of hearing about the Soviet compound in Glen Cove, NY. For a long time, they have been the subject of disputes with the town and their neighbors, as well as people demonstrating there.

Nelson DeMille, also a former resident of Elmont, NY, crafted a thriller centered around the Soviet compound, but also much deeper. He takes us back to a time of the Cold War when the Soviets and the U.S. were locked in a standoff of mutually assured destruction.

For years there have been rumors of a Soviet agent high up there in the CIA, with the code-name Talbot. However, they have been unable to figure out who is compromised. Former NYPD detective Tony Abrams is studying for the Bar exam and working as a process server at a law firm, or so he thinks. There’s more to this law firm than meets the eye.

A number of suspicious deaths take place which unnerves several of the firm’s lawyers. Tony is brought in to the confidence of what is going on and assigned to protect one of the partners. As the two of them try to stay one step ahead of the murderer and find out exactly what is going on and why they are also running out of time to stop an impending Soviet first strike.

I found The Talbot Odyssey to be very well-crafted. Right from the beginning, I was caught up in the mystery of who was wanting to kill these agents and why. It then morphs from a focus on one person targeting former OSS agents to what are the Soviets up to and how do we stop them? It moved at a breakneck pace keeping the protagonist one step ahead of the villains.

It took a bit to get into the story. I’d say the first 100 pages were the hardest. I did like the characters, though. Tony Abrams is a typical “smart aleck” cop who keeps the story interesting with some sarcasm. Seeing how this goes, in his eyes, from being a glorified bodyguard to the height of political espionage he manages to fit into the story at every turn as it unravels. Everything is not as it was originally presented, and it takes everyone involved to thwart the plans of those who would alter the path of history.

The story had a familiar feel to me since I knew about this conflict when I lived on Long Island. The peril of having the United Nations in New York City meant there were a lot of diplomats around with diplomatic immunity which ticked off local governments time and time again. DeMille did a good job weaving the events that were familiar to Long Islanders with a great thriller. The characters are interesting and have depth. Even the ones who seem to have nothing to offer show some talent in the end when they have to come together. It was fun watching the plan fall into place and imagining these events happening – scary too!

While it took a while for the story to grab me, in the end, The Talbot Odyssey was a very good read. The breakneck pace of the action kept me riveted once it kicked into high gear, and the characters were all interesting as well. It’s definitely worth checking out.