On a Long Island beach at dusk, Bob Mitchell and Janet Whitney conduct their illicit love affair in front of a video camera, set to record each steamy moment. Suddenly a terrible explosion lights up the sky. Grabbing the camera, the couple flees as approaching police cars speed toward the scene. Five years later, the crash of Flight 800 has been attributed to a mechanical malfunction. But for John Corey and Kate Mayfield, both members of the Elite Anti-terrorist Task Force, the case is not closed. Suspecting a cover-up at the highest levels and disobeying orders, they set out to find the one piece of evidence that will prove the truth about what really happened to Flight 800--the videotape that shows a couple making love on the beach and the last moments of the doomed airliner.
About the Author
Nelson DeMille is a former U.S. Army lieutenant who served in Vietnam and is the author of nineteen acclaimed novels, including the #1 New York Times bestsellers Night Fall, Plum Island, The Gate House, The Lion, The Panther and Radiant Angel. His other New York Times bestsellers include The Charm School, Word of Honor, The Gold Coast, Spencerville, The Lion's Game, Up Country, Wild Fire, and The General's Daughter, the last of which was a major motion picture. For more information, you can visit NelsonDeMille.net.
Hometown:Long Island, New York
Date of Birth:August 22, 1943
Place of Birth:New York, New York
Education:B.A. in political science, Hofstra University, 1974
Read an Excerpt
By Nelson DeMille
Warner BooksCopyright © 2004 Nelson DeMille
All right reserved.
Chapter OneBud Mitchell drove his Ford Explorer along Dune Road. Up ahead was a sign that said CUPSOGUE BEACH COUNTY PARK-OPEN DAWN TO DUSK. It was dusk, but Bud drove through an empty parking field, on the far side of which was a wide nature trail, partially blocked by a roll-up fence. A sign said NO VEHICLES.
He said to the woman sitting in his passenger seat, "Are you sure you want to do this?"
Jill Winslow replied, "Yes. It's exciting."
Bud nodded without enthusiasm. He skirted around the fence and continued on in four-wheel drive along the sandy trail flanked by high, grass-covered dunes.
Having extramarital sex should have been exciting enough for both of them, he thought, but Jill didn't see it that way. For her, cheating on her husband was only worth it if the sex, romance, and excitement were better than at home. For him, the taboo of having sex with another man's wife was the turn-on.
Somewhere around his fortieth birthday, Bud Mitchell had come to the startling conclusion that women were different. Now, five years later and two years into this affair, he realized that Jill's fantasies and his weren't communicating very well. Still, Jill Winslow was beautiful, willing, and most important, she was someone else's wife, and she wanted to keep it that way. For him, safe sex meant having it with a married woman.
An added kick for Bud was that he and his wife, Arlene, traveled in the same social circles as Jill and her husband, Mark. When the four of them were together at a social function, Bud felt the opposite of awkward or guilty; he felt terrific, his ego knew no bounds, and he reveled in his secret knowledge that he had seen every inch of the beautiful Jill Winslow's naked body.
But, it wasn't that secret, of course, or it wouldn't have been so much fun. Early in the affair, when they were both nervous about getting caught, they'd sworn to each other that they wouldn't tell anyone. Since then, they'd both hinted that they'd had to confide in close friends solely for the purpose of providing cover stories for their absences from home and hearth. Bud always wondered who of her friends knew, and at social gatherings he had fun trying to guess.
They had driven in separate cars from their homes on Long Island's Gold Coast, about fifty-five miles from Westhampton, and Jill had parked in a village lot where they'd rendezvoused, then driven to a hotel together in Bud's Explorer. At the hotel, Bud had asked her what her cover story was and gotten a one-word answer, so he asked again, "Where are you tonight?"
"Dinner with a girlfriend who has a place in East Hampton. Shopping tomorrow." She added, "That part is true, since you have to get home in the morning."
"The friend is cool with this?"
She let out an exasperated breath. "Yes. Don't worry about it."
"Okay." Bud noticed that she never asked about his cover story, as if the less she knew, the better. He volunteered, "I'm deep-sea fishing with friends. Bad cell phone reception on the ocean."
Bud Mitchell understood that in their own way, both he and Jill loved their slightly boring spouses, they loved their children, and their comfortable upper-middle-class lives. They also loved each other, or said they did, but not enough to chuck everything to be together seven days a week. Three or four times a month seemed to be good enough.
The trail ended at a sand dune, and Bud stopped.
Jill said, "Go toward the beach."
Bud turned off the sandy trail toward the ocean.
The Explorer descended a gradual slope through brush and sea grass as he steered around a high dune. He stopped on the far side of the dune where the vehicle couldn't be seen from the trail. His dashboard clock read 7:22.
The sun was sinking over the Atlantic Ocean, and he noticed that the ocean itself was smooth as a pond. The sky was clear except for some scattered clouds.
He said to Jill, "Nice night."
She opened her door and got out. Bud turned off the engine and followed her.
They surveyed the expanse of white sand beach that ended at the ocean's edge fifty yards away. The water sparkled with golden flecks in the setting sun and a soft land breeze rustled the sea oats on the dunes.
Bud looked around to see if they were alone. Dune Road was the only way in or out of this barrier island, and he'd seen a few cars leaving the beaches and heading back toward Westhampton, but no cars traveling in their direction.
The thin island ended a hundred yards to the west at Moriches Inlet, and on the other side of the inlet he could see the edge of Smith Point County Park on Fire Island.
It was Wednesday, so the Hampton weekenders were back in the city, and anyone left was deep into the cocktail hour. Plus, it was about a half mile back to where vehicles were supposed to stop. Bud said, "I guess we have the beach to ourselves."
"That's what I told you."
Jill went around the Explorer and opened the rear hatch. Bud joined her and together they removed a few items, including a blanket, an ice chest, a video camera, and a tripod.
They found a sheltered valley between two grassy dunes, and Jill laid out the blanket and cooler while Bud set up the tripod and video camera. He took off the lens cap, looked through the viewfinder, and pointed the camera at Jill sitting cross-legged and barefoot on the blanket. The last glimmers of red sunlight illuminated the scene, and Bud adjusted the zoom lens and hit the Record button.
He joined Jill on the blanket as she uncorked a bottle of white wine. He took two wineglasses from the ice chest and she poured.
They clinked glasses, and Bud said, "To summer evenings, to us, together." They drank and kissed.
They were both aware of the video camera recording their images and voices, and they were a little self-conscious. Jill broke the ice by saying, "So, do you come here often?"
Bud smiled and replied, "First time. How about you?"
They smiled at each other and the silence became almost awkward. Bud didn't like the camera pointing at them, but he could see the upside later when they got back to their hotel room in Westhampton and played the tape while they had sex in bed. Maybe this wasn't such a bad idea.
They had a second glass of wine, and aware that the light was fading, Jill got down to business. She set her glass on the cooler, stood, and pulled off her knit top.
Bud stood and took off his shirt.
Jill dropped her khaki shorts and kicked them away. She stood there a few seconds in her bra and panties as Bud got undressed, then she took off her bra and slid her panties off. She faced the camera, threw her arms in the air, did a few gyrations, then said, "Ta da!" and bowed toward the camera.
They embraced and kissed, and their hands ran over each other's bare body.
Jill moved Bud at right angles to the lens, then looked back at the camera and said, "Blow job. Take One." She dropped to her knees and began to perform oral sex on him.
Bud got very stiff while his knees went rubbery. He didn't know what to do with his hands, so he put them on her head and ran his fingers through her straight brown hair.
Bud forced a smile, knowing the camera was capturing the expression on his face, and he wanted to look happy when they played it back later. But, in truth, he felt somewhere between silly and uncomfortable.
He could be a little raunchy in mixed company, while she was usually soft-spoken and demure, with an occasional smile or witticism. In bed, however, he was still surprised at her sexual nuttiness.
She sensed he was about to come, and she rocked back on her haunches and said, "That's a wrap. Scene Two. Wine, please."
Bud retrieved the bottle of wine.
She lay on her back and thrust her legs into the air and said, "A wife-tasting party." She spread her legs and said, "Pour."
Bud knelt between her legs and poured the wine, then without further stage direction, he buried his tongue in her.
Jill was breathing hard now, but managed to say, "I hope you have that camera pointed right."
Bud came up for air and glanced at the camera. "Yeah."
She took the bottle and poured the remainder of the wine over her body. "Lick."
He licked the wine from her hard belly and breasts and ran his tongue over her nipples.
After a few minutes, she sat up and said, "I'm sticky. Let's skinny-dip."
Bud stood and said, "I think we should go. We'll shower at the hotel."
She ignored him and climbed to the top of the sheltering dune and looked out at the ocean. "Come on. Set the camera up here and get us skinny-dipping."
Bud knew better than to argue, so he walked quickly to the video camera, stopped it, then carried it with the tripod to the top of the dune and set the legs into the sand.
Bud looked out over the sand, ocean, and sky. The horizon was still lit by the dying rays of the sun, but the sea and the water were dark blue and purple now. Overhead he could see stars appearing and noticed the blinking lights of high-flying aircraft and the glow of a big ship on the distant horizon. The breeze had picked up, and it cooled his sweaty, naked body.
Jill looked through the viewfinder and switched to a twilight setting, then set the autofocus on infinity and zoomed out for a wide shot. She pushed the Record button, and said, "This is so beautiful."
Bud replied, "Maybe we shouldn't go down to the beach naked. There could be people around."
"So what? As long as we don't know them, who cares?"
"Yeah, but let's take some clothes-"
"Live dangerously, Bud."
She stepped off the dune, sliding and hopping all the way down the slope to the beach.
Bud watched her, marveling at her perfect naked body as she ran to the water.
She turned toward him and shouted, "Come on!"
He ran down the slope, across the flat beach. He felt silly running naked with his thing flapping in the breeze.
He caught up to her as she reached the water, and she turned him to the camera on the dune. She waved and shouted, "Bud and Jill swim with the sharks." She took his hand, and they splashed into the calm ocean.
The initial shock of the cool water gave way to a pleasant sense of cleansing. They stopped when the salty seawater reached their hips, and they washed each other front and back.
Jill looked out at the sea. "This is magic."
Bud stood beside her and together they stared, mesmerized by the glassy sea and the purple sky spread out before them.
To their right, Bud noticed the blinking lights of an aircraft, about eight or ten miles off Fire Island at an altitude of maybe ten or fifteen thousand feet. Bud watched the aircraft as it drew closer, the last rays of the setting sun reflecting off its wings. It left four white contrails in the deep blue sky, and Bud guessed it had taken off from Kennedy Airport about sixty miles to the west, and it was heading toward Europe. The moment called for romance, so he said, "I'd like to be on that plane with you, going to Paris or Rome."
She laughed. "You panic when you're gone for an hour in a hot-sheet motel. How are you going to explain Paris or Rome?"
Bud was annoyed and said, "I don't panic. I'm cautious. For your sake." He said, "Let's go."
"In a minute." She squeezed his butt and said, "This videotape is going to burn up the TV screen."
He was still annoyed and didn't respond.
She took hold of his penis and said, "Let's do it here."
"Uh ..." He looked up and down the beach, then at the camera on the sand dune, pointing at them.
"Come on. Before someone comes. Just like that scene in From Here to Eternity."
He had a million good reasons why they shouldn't have sex on the open beach, but Jill had a firm grip on the one good reason why they should.
She took his hand and led him to the shore where the gentle surf was lapping over the wet sand.
She said, "Lie down."
Bud lay on the sand where the sea ebbed and flowed over his body. She lay on top of him, and they made love slowly and rhythmically, the way she liked it, her doing most of the work at her own pace.
Bud was a little distracted by the surf rolling over his face and body, and he was a bit anxious by being so exposed on the beach. But within a minute, the size of his world shrunk to the area between their legs, and he wouldn't have noticed a tsunami breaking over him.
A minute later, she climaxed and he ejaculated into her.
She lay on him, breathing heavily for a few seconds, then she straddled him with her knees and sat up. She started to say something, then froze in mid-sentence and stared out over the ocean. "What ...?"
He sat up quickly and followed her gaze out toward the water, over his right shoulder.
Something was rising off the water, and it took him a second to recognize it as a streak of incandescent reddish orange fire trailing a plume of white smoke. "What the hell ...?" It looked like a skyrocket left over from the Fourth of July, but it was huge, too huge-and it was coming off the water.
They both watched as it rose quickly, gathering speed as it ascended into the sky. It seemed to zigzag, then turn.
Suddenly, a flash of light appeared in the sky, followed by a huge fireball. They scrambled to their feet and stared transfixed as pieces of fiery debris began raining down from the point of the explosion. About a half minute later, the sound of two explosions in quick succession rolled across the water and filled the air around them, causing them to instinctively flinch. Then, silence.
The huge fireball seemed to hang in the air for a long time, then it began falling, breaking up into two or three fiery pieces, falling at different speeds.
A minute later, the sky was clear, except for white and black smoke, illuminated from below by the glow of fires burning on the smooth ocean, miles away.
Bud stared at the blazing horizon, then at the sky, then back at the water, his heart beating rapidly.
Jill whispered, "Oh, my God ... what ...?"
Bud stood motionless, not quite comprehending what he'd just seen, but in his gut, he knew it was something terrible. His next thought was that whatever this was, it was big enough and loud enough to draw people toward the beach. He took Jill's arm and said, "Let's get out of here. Fast."
They turned and sprinted across the fifty yards of sand and up the dune. Bud grabbed the video camera and tripod as Jill scrambled down the far side of the dune. Bud followed and said, "Get dressed! Get dressed!" They both dressed quickly and ran toward the Explorer, Bud carrying the tripod and Jill carrying the camera, leaving the blanket and ice chest behind.
They tossed the video equipment in the backseat, jumped in the front, and Bud started the Explorer and threw it into gear. They were both breathing hard. He left his headlights off, and with wheels spinning, he drove back to the trail and made a sharp right turn. He drove cautiously in the dark, along the nature trail, then through the parking field, and out onto Dune Road where he put on his headlights and accelerated.
Neither of them spoke.
Excerpted from Night Fall by Nelson DeMille Copyright © 2004 by Nelson DeMille. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This is my third book by DeMille and my first about John Corey. If John were a real person, I think I'd be in love! His sense of humor and wit were terrific. The book itself was terrific, although I was a little disappointed in the ending. However, once I thought about it, I guess it was the only way DeMille could end it without adding about 400 more pages to the story. I loved this book and am looking foward to reading more about John Corey!
The John Corey series is fantastic. My introduction to John Corey was Plum Island. I fell in love with his witt and satire. I wasn't disappointed in Night Fall. I did not think I'd enjoy a book about Terrorism, but Nelson DeMille's writing made it so I could not put the book down. You will not be disappointed. I highly recommend the entire series.
Like all the Corey stories, you'll be pulled in right from the beginning. Although fictional, the novel contains contemporary historical elements that make the story personal. It's a great ride -- enjoy.
This is the second DeMille I've read -- "The Gate House" was the other -- and I have enjoyed them both. This proves the value of scouting the remainder table. The fun part of some of those conspiracy wackos is when, in fact, there is a good conspiracy going on. That is the premise of this "based on true events" novel. TWA Flight 800 explodes just a few minutes after take-off and after years of investigation there is the official explanation of accidental explosion due to faulty electrical wiring behind the main fuel tanks. But when John Corey, re-energized by the 5th year anniversary of the deaths of the 230 aboard the doomed airliner, tries to seek some better answers, he is threatened by his supervisors in the FBI and CIA to drop it or else. As DeMille's story unfolds we are reminded how this disaster occurred nearly at the half-way point between the two World Trade Center bombings in 1993 and 2001. There are eye-witness accounts of a missile streaking toward the plane seconds before the explosion. Yet, no terrorist organization claimed responsibility. Was there an elusive piece of evidence? The final showdown blends fiction and real-life in a most jarring way. Good read.
This book will make you think, while it also entertains. I highly recommend the entire John Corey series.
DeMille is a gifted author with the ability to weave a complex plot while developing the characters with artful precision. John Corey, a man of Cynicism and Humor, faces the challenges of his job, an investigator with a government anti-terrorism squad, with the "damn the torpedoes" attitude. I have read 4 books in the series and am looking forward to reading the rest. Scott Brick is the best narrator to be found, in my opinion. He gives life and spirit to the written word. His voice and intonations keep you so riveted that you find it hard to doze off. These are my opinions and reactions. Read any book in this series and I believe you will agree.
All DeMille books are great reading especially John Corey seriee
EVERY BIT AS GOOD AS SERIES 1 AND 2 GREAT CANT WAIT TO READ # 4 I LOVE THE CAST, KEEP THEM COMING
Love John Corey! I can't wait for the next book in the John Corey series.
Fantastic as always!
It has an 'interesting' ending. 'Interesting' is the key word.
This was an excellent follow to the Lion Game, in the John Corey series. I found myself doing my own investigative research on Flight 800.
Because of the timeliness of the topic, you become involved with the characters immediately. The mere possibility of this situation actually being fact is compeling to say the very least. All the nuances of a good crime outline are there and it captures the essence of what might have been and really attacks one's reasonings. I was absorbed to the very end and was totally caught believing that there was the possibility that this could have been part of the truth. All the basis is there for you and the chance that some of this was part of the overall picture is very unsettling. It is not for everyone, but it does leave the reader with new feelings on the tragedy of 9/11 amongst other events in the recent past that remain a mystery long after the final reports have been filed, read and digested.
I purchased this book from Savers second hand store. Fantastic book and a oh my God ending.
Good book. Had me up until the wee hours to finish it. There is a lot of fluff, I was able to skip many paragraphs to get to what I wanted and not miss anything.
Talk about a gut-wrencher. Another one of those books that makes writing look easy (it ain't trust me). Great characters and a great story. THe type of book where you start screaming at the characters because the reader knows what's coming...which in many cases makes for a dull mystery. Here, it simply ratchets the suspense level.
A couple enjoying a night time tryst on a beach in Long Island decide to tape their romp so they can play it back in their hotel room later. They watch in horror as TWA Flight 800 explodes in the sky and they have it all on tape. Since they aren¿t married to each other and have a lot to lose, they grab what they can and rush back to the hotel, leaving the hotel blanket and the lens cap from their camera on the beach.Five years later at the annual memorial service for the deceased, John Corey and his wife, FBI agent Kate Mayfield, discuss what happened five years ago. The case is closed, the explosion chalked up to exhaust fumes, but Kate isn¿t so sure. Since she can¿t work a closed case, she tempts her husband with the suspicions from eyewitnesses and workers who had pieced together the plane in a hangar. When the FBI learns John and Kate are looking into the case, they are each transferred to different countries for a couple months. While gone, John enlists the help of an NYPD detective he had worked with to track down the couple. When John returns, he goes on his own hunting expedition, visiting the hotel where the couple stayed, interviewing some of the workers, and finally the woman who was having the affair. The FBI thinks the tape was destroyed but she had made a copy. Thus starts the cat and mouse game as John tries to keep the woman safe yet meet with the powers that be to show the tape and get some answers. It all culminates at a meeting set on the fateful day of September 11. Although the reader is lead to believe a missile did come from the water and strike the plane, we never do learn the who, what and why. Still a fast-paced thriller and since this book was published in 2004, I¿ll have to check out subsequent books in the series to see if a reference is made to the events in NIGHTFALL.
A great summer read. This story is a conspiracy-lover's dream. It's based on the crash of TWA 800 off Long Island. Was information suppressed that would have shown it was a missile strike rather than a a mechanical problem? The timing of the story makes the reader want to find out how he is going to resolve the book. Pretty well, considering real life events. I enjoyed it.
Thought provoking fictional story (although well researched)...on the downing of TWA Flight 800 on July 17 2006 off the coast of Long Island minutes after the plane took off from Kennedy. More than 200 people died. The book focuses on the public debate: did it explode because of a spark near the fuel tank, or did a missle strike the plane? A scandalous videotape is at the center of the plot. DeMille knows how to write suspense. This was a talker in my book club.
I truly enjoyed the premise of this book. The premise gives the story a different flavor than the typical thriller, which is refreshing. Unlike previous DeMille John Corey books, where the places were real but the events were fictitious, this time DeMille tackles an actual event, the mysterious plane crash of TWA Flight 800, and puts it to the two main characters, John Corey & Kate Mayfield, to solve what really happened on that flight.
Awesome! I love DeMille's style of writing - bitingly sarcastic -- and quickly found myself identifying with John Corey. And, despite knowing that the end was coming, I wasn't quite expecting that ending. Definitely a fun read.
This is my third Nelson DeMille book, and as with his two others, I felt completely positive that I was in the hands of a master. This is a fantastic work of fiction, with plenty of suspense, police procedure, and hard-hitting testosterone. Go and read this book!
Great read, page-turner about the events of the downing of flight 800 over Long Island Sound in 1996. DeMille states that it is a book of fiction based on interviews and research of the events as they actually happened and leaves it to the reader to form their own conclusions.
I always enjoy DeMille, but the ending of this one left me unsatisfied.
From the start this was a page-turner. The ending wasn't as satisfying as I would have thought it should be.