Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Rendezvous by Nelson DeMille, 2012

“I saw her in my field glasses. It was a woman.” I added, “They make good snipers.”

Remember the alien that haunted and hunted a US special forces team in the jungles of Central America in Predator, where only the head of the commando unit survives in the end? Cut back to the Vietnam War and imagine a sniper eliminating an elite reconnaissance patrol, where again only the leader of the detachment lives to tell the tale. Except, in Nelson DeMille’s Rendezvous, the sniper is neither man nor alien. It’s a young woman who is as deadly with a long-range Russian-make Draganov rifle as she is sensuous bathing naked under a waterfall, in full view of the lieutenant whose men she is taking down one by one.

The female sniper, clad in black silk pajamas, plays mind games with the ten-man recon patrol which, in spite of being entrenched in the dark and treacherous jungles of Vietnam, has nowhere to run or hide. They are lost and confused and are sitting ducks for the “bitch,” and DeMille shows them no mercy in this crisply written story.

The sniper torments the nameless lieutenant by killing all his men and then mocks him by sparing his life, so that he can go back and tell everyone about her, and thus create the legend of the female sniper. Her trophies should not go in vain.

Rendezvous is entertaining with an element of unintended humour, and it moves at a brisk pace. I don’t know if there were female snipers in the Viet Cong that fought the carpet-bombing Americans, but there were highly-trained insurgents whose guerrilla tactics often won the battle against the enemy.

Rendezvous is the second of Nelson DeMille's Kindle Single; his first was The Book Case (2012), a delightful story about a murder in a bookstore, which I reviewed a couple of years ago. I recommend both the novellas.

14 comments:

  1. Have not read this one but it sounds gripping. I'm going to see if I can find it

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    1. Charles, it's mildly gripping but there is action throughout the story.

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  2. I'm a fan of Nelson De Mille, and like you I really enjoyed his other Kindle single (it was you who told me about it), so I really should try this. Black silk pyjamas, too...

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    1. Moira, you are welcome. I'm glad DeMille is writing Kindle singles which, I believe, are popular among his readers. I plan to read his full-length novels too. The black silk pyjamas is the only clothing element in the story!

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  3. So, when you say there is unintended humour, is this a book that maybe takes itself a bit too seriously?

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    1. Sergio, it does in a way. It is funny how the lieutenant orders his men to hit the ground or dive for cover every time the sniper takes out one of his men. They seem so helpless. My idea of black humour, I guess.

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  4. Prashant: De Mille may have been inspired by the Russian women snipers of WW II. In particular, Liudmyla Mykhailivna Pavlychenko gained fame with 309 confirmed kills of German soldiers including 36 German snipers. She was equally deadly and attractive.

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    1. Bill, I didn't know about Liudmyla Mykhailivna Pavlychenko or Russian women snipers. I'd be interested in reading a fictional account of female snipers during WWII. The Germans had their share of snipers too but I'm not sure they included women.

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  5. I have some of his longer works unread. I might think about this one if I need to crash through some short reads this month to hit my year end target! Thanks

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    1. Col, you're welcome. I look forward to reading DeMille's novels even as I'll continue reading his short fiction. He is a good storyteller.

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  6. Hmm, was just thinking about reading De Mille again. I used to read him and Robert Ludlum years ago. --Keishon

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    1. Keishon, I haven't read Ludlum since my college days and it'd be nice to (re)read some of his thrillers.

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  7. I have wanted to read something by DeMille; maybe a single is the way to go. Thanks for the review, Prashant.

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    1. Tracy, you're welcome. You'll enjoy reading DeMille's singles which is where I started though I hope to graduate to his full novels soon.

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