John Corey

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John Aloysius Corey (born 1955) is a fictitious recurring character in a series of thrillers by Nelson DeMille. He is quick-witted and cocky, but would be considered by most to be a brilliant detective.

Fictitious character biography[edit]

Corey first appeared in DeMille's novel Plum Island, in 1997. Since then, he's appeared in The Lion's Game, Night Fall, Wild Fire, The Lion, The Panther, and most recently, Radiant Angel.

The character has a healthy disrespect for authority, a dry and engaging wit, and frequently crosses the powers that be. His outside persona is one of bemused detachment; however, once he locks in on a problem, he's a merciless powerhouse who refuses to stop until he's solved his case.

In Plum Island, Corey is a New York homicide detective, on medical leave, and a lecturer at John Jay College. In The Lion's Game, Corey has left the NYPD and become an agent for the fictional FBI Anti-Terrorist Task Force (ATTF) in New York City, which is based on the real-life Joint Terrorist Task Force.

While the Plum Island case is a local matter, the succeeding novels deal with international conspiracy and terrorism, as befits his change in occupation. Corey meets FBI Special Agent Kate Mayfield in the Anti-Terrorist Task Force, a fact which involves them both working on cases and getting into trouble together.

Before Plum Island, Corey is shot by two Hispanic criminals of unknown origin, which is the initial set up of the novel. In The Lion's Game, he is also pursued and shot by the Libyan terrorist Asad Khalil.

In The Lion, Corey once again faces the Lion, Asad Khalil.

In 2012, DeMille published an eBook-exclusive short story entitled The Book Case, which is set during Corey's days as a homicide detective. The story is about a New York City bookstore owner found crushed to death by one of the book cases in his office, forcing Corey to determine if it was an accident or murder.

The sixth Corey novel, entitled The Panther, was released on October 16, 2012.[1] The novel features both Corey and Kate Mayfield, investigating the USS Cole bombing in Yemen.

The most recent Corey novel, Radiant Angel was released in May, 2015, where the focus shifts from Islamic terrorism to a Russian plot against America.

Love Interests[edit]

When Corey is first introduced in Plum Island, he is separated and eventually divorced from his first wife, defense attorney Robin Paine, who makes a brief appearance in Night Fall. The ostensible reason for the separation is due to a change in her career; she had stopped working on Corey's side of the law, as a Manhattan assistant district attorney, and had become a high-paid defense attorney for the criminals he was trying to "put in the slammer".

In Plum Island, he becomes romantically involved with two characters he meets in the course of his investigation:

  • Emma Whitestone - florist (business owner), archivist and President of the Peconic Historical Society
  • Elizabeth (Beth) Penrose - homicide detective for the Suffolk County Police

Corey's involvement with Penrose continues in The Lion's Game, where he meets and later marries FBI agent Kate Mayfield. Penrose and Corey meet again in Radiant Angel in an awkward chance encounter.


  • Corey was never meant to be a recurring character, and DeMille's foreword in the newest edition of Plum Island (novel) indicates that Corey was only brought back by popular demand. DeMille stated in the same foreword that he deliberately wrote Corey as the most 'un-PC' character possible as many authors became more politically correct.
  • Was once married to a defense attorney, and he continues to live in their Manhattan apartment..
  • As with many of DeMille's characters, Corey frequently dates or marries much younger women (Mayfield, for instance, is 14 years his junior).
  • Teaches at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
  • Prefers beer over other beverages to the extent that he was "forced" to masquerade beer as champagne during an haute garden party in Plum Island and to use red wine as a washing solution for his windshield (he has also been known to drink scotch, as do many of DeMille's other male protagonists). He is also exceptionally fond of pigs in a blanket with deli mustard and asked that they be prepared by a French chef in a $1,200 per night hotel in Wild Fire.
  • Gave up smoking after being shot three times in the events prior to Plum Island. In The Lion's Game Corey does in fact hold a lit cigarette but assures the reader he does not inhale. However, in Night Fall he does have a cigarette when interviewing a female Doctoral Student at the University of Pennsylvania.
  • In Wild Fire he reveals his middle name is Aloysius.
  • Is irrationally fearful of bears, and frequently mentions his fear while in upstate New York in Wild Fire.


  1. "The Panther". Retrieved 17 June 2012.

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