brenner_paul3 brenner_paul1 brenner_paul_mv_tgd brenner_paul2
Full Name: Paul Brenner
Nationality: American
Organization: DSS
Occupation Agent

Creator: Nelson DeMille
Time Span: 1999 - 2013


Paul Brenner is an agent with the State Department's Diplomatic Security Service (DSS).

As an agent, it is his job to go the trouble spots of the world where American diplomats must also travel to help keep the danger from destroying vital diplomatic missions. It is one of those thankless jobs that if an agent does correctly time after time, no one thinks about it. If he messes up or if the enemy is just a little better or luckier, his career is likely over, assuming he is alive to care.

Brenner had not always been an agent with the DSS. He had planned on a long and interesting career in the US Army's Criminal Investigation Command and it is in that role that we first see him. A veteran of far too much action in Vietnam, Brenner has advanced through the enlisted ranks before becoming a Warrant Officer (rank of CW3). Far more important in his role with the CIC is power that is given him in order for him to do his job - the power to arrest any one, regardless of rank or position. What makes that a tad touchy, however, is the fact that prior to the actual arrest, Brenner must follow the discipline of any member of the military. This means a fine line must be walked.

This is nothing new to Brenner. He has had people, both the enemy and 'friendlies', try to kill him in war and in peace and his brassy nature and somewhat cynical tone conveys this. He knows that every service-person, regardless of sex or age or rank or position, puts their pants on one leg at a time and he knows that any one of them can and might step over the line. It is his job to catch them when they do.

At least it is in the first recorded case. In the second book detailing his activities, Brenner is only just recovering from the political and personal fallout for not having played ball like it was suggested he should. He demanded to know the truth and he got it. He got 'allowed' to retire early as a result. So he is available when a trusted former commander asks for help and that request takes him back into one country he had never expected to see again, a country where he had nearly died several times and one that had many bad, but also many good, memories; Vietnam.

The activities of this mission threw Brenner into a world of shadows where nothing he saw or heard could be trusted and no one had his back. This sort of predicament was not novel to the highly trained detective as he had been undercover many times before but it was always in amongst his own people, speaking his native language, and with the ability to step out of character if truly forced and call upon the might of the US Army for help. In this Vietnam mission, there was no stepping out and definitely no one to ask for help.

It was after this second adventure that Brenner realized he still had a life to lead and that life had to be one where the stakes were a lot higher than just another paycheck. He knew he could get a security job anywhere for virtually anyone. He chose the DSS and he chose to make every day he went to work a day he might not survive.


Number of Books:3
First Appearance:1999
Last Appearance:2013

1 The General's Daughter The General's Daughter
Written by Nelson DeMille
Copyright: 1999

The rape and murder of a female Army Captain, daughter of a very prominent General, is causing enormous pressure to be hushed up but Paul Brenner, lead investigator, knows that he cannot just bury the truth, regardless of the consequences.
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2 Up Country Up Country
Written by Nelson DeMille
Copyright: 2002

Forced into early retirement because of the General case, Paul Brenner had no interest in the request of the CID for another assignment but his old boss asks for a favor and he heads to Vietnam to look into a 30-year old murder, a cold case that is suddenly very hot.
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3 The Panther The Panther
Written by Nelson DeMille
Copyright: 2013

Now with the Diplomatic Corps heading up protection, Paul Brenner is in Yemen hunting the Panther, a terrorist leader involved in the USS Cole bombing. Working with John and Kate Corey, he knows only by setting a good bait can he catch such a prize.


Number of Movies:1
First Appearance:1999
Last Appearance:1999

Only one movie has been made from the Paul Brenner books but it was a very, very good one with terrific acting and awesome pacing. When you look at the actors at work, how could it not be great?

1 The General's Daughter The General's Daughter
Director: Simon West
Writers: Christopher Bertolini, William Goldman, Nelson DeMille
Actors: John Travolta as Paul Brenner, Madeleine Stowe as Sara Sunhill, James Cromwell as Lt. Gen. Campbell, Timothy Hutton as Col. Kent, Leslie Stefanson as Capt. Campbell, Clarence Williams III as Col. Fowler
Released: 1999

A female army captain is found dead, naked, and staked out spread-eagle on a stateside military base. Making things even more politically hot, she was the daughter of a general in line for a major position. Paul Brenner must deal tactfully and tact is not something he worries about.


When I read The General's Daughter in the early 2000's, I did so only because I was a huge fan of Nelson DeMille. I never thought Paul Brenner would be a candidate for this site. Up Country made me ponder that fact some but I finally decided against it. Then the latest John Corey adventure came out and my wife and I absorbed every delicious word while on a trip. I knew only the John and Kate were heading to Yemen. I was stunned to find Paul Brenner already there. Okay, first book No, second book Maybe, third book Yes. Welcome, Paul Brenner.

There are not enough great words to describe the skill that Nelson DeMille brings to his work and not enough to show how much I so deeply appreciate his product. The three books are so completely different from each other and yet Mr. DeMille is able to hold me spellbound in each one. The mystery and the duplicity of the first book, the suspense and anxiety of the second, and the wit and sarcasm Corey shows in the third, each makes the particular book a joy.

Having said that, there is no doubt that the third book is foremost a Corey adventure but Paul Brenner does more than hold his own in it.

I am hopeful that the author will take Brenner on another excursion some time soon. He need not go with Corey, and probably shouldn't, because he is his own unique character and has proven able to star in his own series. And the DSS for which he works in the last book is just too interesting a department to not use again.


My Grade: A


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