Reign in Hell

William Diehl, Author Ballantine $5.99 (437p) ISBN 978-0-345-41144-0
There's scarcely a courtroom in sight in Diehl's boisterous third Martin Vail novel (Primal Fear; Show of Evil). But the hotshot attorney is still fighting for justice, this time as a U.S. assistant attorney general appointed by the president to establish a RICO case against a violent right-wing militia. This premise allows Diehl to emphasize muscular action over legal shenanigans (there's an armored-car robbery by the militia; bombings, shootings and stalkings by a militia-hired assassin; a climactic FBI-led assault on the militia's mountain stronghold). It also allows him to smarten the scenes between the rough stuff with dramatic glitz: visits to the oval office; flights on a high-tech air mobile operations center; confrontations with the politically powerful. Vail disappears for long stretches of narrative, but he isn't missed since Diehl's take on White House machinations is appealingly cynical and his presentation of militia ways and mindsets is brutally believable. Vail is beginning to appear more superhero than human (it's almost a relief when, at one point, he takes a bullet), and Diehl's resurrection of Vail's crew of legal assistants and his wealthy lover seems more obligatory than inspired. Worse, this generally robust novel suffers from a virulent flaw that almost kills it. For some reason, Diehl chooses to resurrect his best-known villain, who's posing as a fraudulent fire-and-brimstone preacher with a penchant for young girls. Diehl even rigs a ludicrously unlikely final confrontation between this villain and Vail on the militia's mountain. It's too much, as bogus as a $3 bill. Diehl wrote a lot of fine, non-Vail thrillers before Primal Fear; a new one may be in order now. Literary Guild main selection, Doubleday Book Club and Mystery Guild selections; major ad/promo; author tour. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 09/01/1997
Release date: 09/01/1997
Show other formats
FORMATS
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-0-679-46068-8
Mass Market Paperbound - 480 pages - 978-0-345-39506-1
Hardcover - 776 pages - 978-0-7862-1342-9
Hardcover - 978-0-609-00118-9
Hardcover - 505 pages - 978-0-7493-2284-7
Hardcover - 528 pages - 978-0-09-947265-0
Hardcover - 528 pages - 978-0-09-957957-1
X
Stay ahead with
Tip Sheet!
Free newsletter: the hottest new books, features and more
X
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
X
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
X
Email Address

Password

Log In Lost Password

PW has integrated its print and digital subscriptions, offering exciting new benefits to subscribers, who are now entitled to both the print edition and the digital editions of PW (online or via our app). For instructions on how to set up your accout for digital access, click here. For more information, click here.

The part of the site you are trying to access is now available to subscribers only. Subscribers: to set up your digital subscription with the new system (if you have not done so already), click here. To subscribe, click here.

Email pw@pubservice.com with questions.

Not Registered? Click here.