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Reign in Hell

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Reign in Hell

By William Diehl

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Format: Paperback, 480 pages
Published In: United States, 01 July 1998
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William Diehl stunned readers with Primal Fear and Show of Evil, the national bestsellers featuring Chicago lawyer Martin Vail. Now, in his gripping new novel of suspense, Diehl enters uncharted territory, pushing Vail and the legal system he represents to the brink of destruction.

After an ultra-right-wing militia seizes truckloads of highly volatile weapons, the president turns to Illinois attorney general Martin Vail. His job: nail the terrorists in their tracks. Vail plunges into his new, near-impossible mission, one that soon explodes into a personal nightmare as his most chilling adversary, Aaron Stampler, returns -- seemingly from the dead -- to exact a vengeance that could bring Vail to his knees....

About the Author

William Diehl is the author of the bestselling Sharky's Machine, Thai Horse, Hooligans, Chameleon, The Hunt (formerly titled 27), Primal Fear, and Show of Evil. He lives on St. Simons Island, Georgia, with his wife, Virginia Gunn, and his daughter, Temple.


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.)

Attorney Martin Vail engages in a winner-take-all battle with the serial killer he fought in Primal Fear (Villard, 1993) and Show of Evil (LJ 4/15/95).

"Primal Fear was a brilliant thriller that most readers considered to be William Diehl's best novel and impossible to top. Reign in Hell, shockingly, is even better". -- BookPage

EAN: 9780345395061
ISBN: 0345395069
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Dimensions: 17.5 x 10.67 x 2.72 centimetres (0.27 kg)
Age Range: 15+ years
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