The Ultimate Guide To 20 Nelson DeMille Books In Reading Order

Nelson DeMille is one of the most famous crime thriller authors in the world. He started writing in the mid-1970s and since then has sold millions of books.

The best way to read all Nelson DeMille books in reading order is to look at each individual saga of his different heroes.

The Ultimate Guide To Nelson DeMille Books In Reading Order

DeMille has written a great variety of crime books, novellas, and short stories. He has also produced a number of non-fiction works.

What’s unusual about DeMille’s writing is that he writes all his books in longhand form with a pencil first.

But this doesn’t stop him from creating bestsellers.

Here is our recommended reading order for all of Nelson DeMille’s crime novels.

About Nelson DeMille Books

Even if you haven’t heard of Nelson DeMille as a writer, you might still know some of his most famous works written under other pen names, such as Ellen Kay, Brad Matthews, or Jack Cannon.

His action and crime thrillers are filled with plot twists and suspense. This being said, DeMille also writes with plenty of political sarcasm and dry humor.

Nelson DeMille is also well-known for his more unusual endings, especially in his recent books. You won’t find the classic happy ending in DeMille’s stories.

He has written a wide variety of different books that fall under a number of book series, including the John Corey saga, the Joe Ryker books, and novels with John Sutton as the main character.

All Nelson Demille Books In Reading Order

The best way to read Nelson DeMille’s suspense-filled crime novels is by reading each book in his collections.

The Ultimate Guide To 20 Nelson DeMille Books In Reading Order

Nelson DeMille’s Joe Ryker Books In Reading Order

Nelson DeMille’s books with Joe Ryker were published under his pseudonym Jack Cannon.

The six-book series from the 1970s was DeMille’s first book following rough-and-ready police detective Joe Ryker.

Here is the best reading order for the Joe Ryker series.

The Sniper (1974)

Ryker 01 The Sniper

Joe Ryker isn’t your standard city cop in New York City. He is tough, experienced, and doesn’t shy away from a challenge.

Ryker’s first case follows his hunt for a murderous psychopath with a sniper rifle.


  • This is an action-packed crime thriller with a main character who is not always sure what side of the law he is on.


  • As this is Nelson DeMille’s very first book, it has a significantly different writing style to many of his other works.

The Hammer Of God (1974)

The Hammer Of God by Jack Cannon (1993-08-01)

Sergeant Joe Ryker is on the case of a brutal serial killer who hides under a monk’s robe.

Among the busy Manhattan streets, there is squalor and poverty. And many beliefs thrive easily in this environment.

When Ryker goes underground, he is quickly caught up in a bizarre net of witchcraft and pagan worship.


  • This book is a great insight into the unexpected underside of New York City.


  • The Hammer of God contains a lot of violence and explicit content.

The Agent Of Death / The Death Squad (1975)


The citizens of New York City are threatened by an unstable assassin who appears to be trained by CIS.

Ryker hurries to stop him before he can ruin more lives but can he get there in time?


  • This is an exciting Joe Ryker story with plenty of surprises.


  • The brutality featured in the third book of this series is extremely vivid.

The Smack Man (1975)


Someone is handing out dirty heroin to New York hookers.

When Joe Ryker is put on the case, he realizes that he will need a female informant to crack the mystery.


The Smack Man is one of DeMille’s most popular Ryker stories.


  • There are a lot of scenes of violent and explicit content in this book.

The Cannibal (1975)


First published with the main character Joe Keller, The Cannibal’s hero was renamed in the mid-1970s to Joe Ryker.

In this book, Ryker follows a dangerous cannibal who is hungry for a kill.


  • The Cannibal is a thrilling story about a hunt for a ruthless killer.


The Night Of The Phoenix (1975)

Keller: Night of the Phoenix

Joe Ryker has a tough life as a city cop but he never gives up on putting the bad boys behind bars.


  • This is a fantastic story with a strong main character and dark, city scenes.


  • Brutally authentic, this book features some seriously strong scenes.

Nelson DeMille’s John Corey Books In Reading Order

After he was wounded when investigating a case, NYPD homicide detective John Corey retired with full honors.

But the quiet life of a pension isn’t Corey’s aspiration, so he jumps on the chance when he is offered a new role as part of a new FBI elite Anti-Terrorist Task Force.

There are eight books in the John Corey series, although Nelson DeMille also has written a novella prequel to the entire series.

The Book Case (2012)

The Book Case (Kindle Single) (John Corey)

While this is not the first book DeMille has written for this series, The Bookcase is a novel that gives the reader some background on John Corey.


  • This is a great starter to find your way into the John Corey stories.


  • Readers found this novella on the light side regarding story and character development.

Plum Island (1997)

Plum Island

John Corey has been discharged as an NYPD homicide detective, trying to rest and recuperate from the wounds that he received in the line of duty.

But Corey isn’t one for sitting idle. He offers his services as a police consultant helping with a double murder of two biologists who worked in animal disease research.


  • Plum Island is an incredibly good mix of fictional characters and historic facts.


  • Some readers found the plot stretched over too many pages.

The Lion’s Game (2000)

The Lion's Game (A John Corey Novel, 2)

Teenager Asad loses his family in an airstrike in Libya.

When he arrives in NYC twelve years later, he is set on killing the pilots who bombed his hometown.


  • This is a great storyline with plenty of twists and surprises in the plot.


  • Some readers said that The Lion’s Game is too wordy.

Night Fall (2004)

Night Fall (A John Corey Novel, 3)

A couple films their love affair on a Long Island beach when a plane crashes not far from them.

While the investigation concludes a technical fault, John Sutton believes there is more behind this devastating event than it may seem.


  • Night Fall has some of the classic Nelson DeMille humor that fans love so much.


  • Some readers found the ending a bit disappointing.

Wild Fire (2006)

Wild Fire (A John Corey Novel, 4)

The Custer Hill Club is a prestigious men’s club but the members hold a dark secret.

When someone from the Federal Anti-Terrorist Task Force is found dead in the woods near the club, John Sutton becomes suspicious.


  • This is a classic John Corey story showing all the character traits of DeMille’s main character in this series.


  • Some readers found the dialogues in Wild Fire too long and wordy.

The Lion (2010)

The Lion (A John Corey Novel, 5)

Asad, also known as “The Lion”, is one of the biggest terrorist threats and he is John Corey’s biggest enemy.

Asad is out for death and destruction, and he won’t rest until he gets what he wants.


  • If you loved The Lion’s Game, then this is a great sequel with the same villain.


  • The plot isn’t as detailed as some other stories in this series.

The Panther (2012)

The Panther (A John Corey Novel, 6)

John Corey and his wife are stationed in Yemen where they are tasked to track down one of the most dangerous Al Qaeda terrorist cells known as The Panther.


  • In this book, John Corey joins forces with another DeMille character, Paul Brenner.


  • The Panther has a lot of dialogue which feels too wordy.

Radiant Angel / A Quiet End (2015)

Radiant Angel (A John Corey Novel (Book 7))

After John Corey returns from Yemen, he is on the case of a new threat that emerges from Russia.


  • This book is a great mix of terror, crime, and dark humor.


  • Radiant Angel was retitled to A Quiet End which can be confusing for some readers. However, it’s still exactly the same book.

The Maze (2022)

The Maze (8) (A John Corey Novel)

John Corey may be unemployed but that doesn’t mean his past can’t catch him. And he will soon have to run for his life.


  • You will find the typical John Corey humor in DeMille’s eighth book in the John Corey series.


  • Some readers found The Maze too focused on Corey’s past relationships and new love affairs.

Nelson DeMille’s John Sutton Books In Reading Order

Tax attorney and Wall Street lawyer John Sutton seems to have an easy life but deep inside he is looking for a new adventure.

John Sutter is a Wall Street lawyer and tax attorney with a comfortable life, a nice house, and a beautiful wife.

While DeMille planned The Gold Coast to be a standalone book, he eventually wrote a sequel 18 years later.

The John Sutton series is only made up of two books but it’s best to read them in publication order as DeMille’s writing style has significantly changed over the years they were written.

The Gold Coast (1990)

The Gold Coast

The infamous Gold Coast on Long Island used to be the center of power and wealth in America.

Depressed Wall Street lawyer John Sutton isn’t happy when Mafia don Frank Bellarosa moves in next door.

But Sutton is quickly drawn into his new neighbor’s web of lies and power.


  • The Gold Coast features a great set of unusual characters entangled in an exciting plot.


  • This is DeMille’s first book of the John Sutton series which has a different writing style to the other books in the collection.

The Gate House (2008)

The Gate House

The second book in the John Sutton series follows Sutton around the world in his sailing boat.

While he settles in London after his trip, he has to return to his old home on the Gold Coast for some business errands.


  • There are a lot of twists and unexpected turns in The Gate House.


  • Some readers found this book unusually long.

Nelson DeMille’s Paul Brenner Books In Reading Order

Paul Brenner is not just a Vietnam veteran but he is now an elite CID special agent with some of the most serious cases.

There are three Paul Brenner books that you can read in this series, although the third, The Panther, also features another DeMille character (John Corey).

The General’s Daughter (1992)

General's Daughter

When a military woman is discovered murdered and raped, Paul Brenner is called in to investigate this gruesome crime.

With some unusual items near the dead body, there could be a possible scandal erupting at any moment.

But when Brenner is forced to work with one of his ex-lovers, he has to swallow his pride and step up to the task.


  • The General’s Daughter is an intriguing story with a clever main character.


  • Some reviews say that this book is just too outrageous to be realistic.

Up Country (2002)

Up Country

Paul Brenner just wanted to do a friend a favor when he finds himself solving a murder and moonlighting for the Army at the same time.


  • This book gives a fantastic insight into the reality of fighting and war.


  • Up Country feels more like DeMille’s personal travel log from the time when he was in Vietnam.

Final Thoughts

Nelson DeMille has written a great variety of crime stories.

While his writing style changed over his long writing career, he has always been true to his humor.

All his books feature strong male characters who work either for the police, Army, FBI, or other law enforcement agencies.

What makes DeMille so unusual as a writer is that his works are packed with suspense and surprising endings.

If you want to get a real feeling for the character in DeMille’s novels, then it is a good idea to read each series in order of publication date.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are A Quiet End And Radiant Angel The Same Book?

Yes, Nelson DeMille’s book Radiant Angel was re-titled to A Quiet End. This means that they are exactly the same book.

Is There A Sequel To The Lion’s Game By Nelson DeMille?

Yes, Nelson DeMille’s book The Lion’s Game was followed by Night Fall. The two books are part of the John Corey saga.

Is There A Sequel To The Gate House?

No, there is currently no sequel to Nelson DeMille’s book The Gate House. However, his novel The Gold Coast is an earlier book in the same John Sutter series.

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Noah Burton