Over the years I have developed a proclivity towards certain authors. In the realm of historical fiction one of my favorites is Steve Berry. Mr. Berry has published eleven novels in his Cotton Malone series. Each is a thrilling read as they develop like a puzzle as each character, historical conundrum, and a suspenseful plot fits together like a glove. I have recently read three of Berry’s novels, THE VENETIAN BETRAYAL, THE CHARLEMAGNE PURSUIT, AND THE PARIS VENDETTA all are stimulating for those who enjoy this genre and are thoughtful as the personal backgrounds of the characters and the historical context that is explored emerges. The reader travels to Venice, Central Asia, and France as each mystery unfolds whether characters deal with the legacy of Alexander the Great, Charlemagne, or Napoleon as each plot builds on the past to the current issues of terrorism, world finance, or the world balance of power.
Berry’s protagonist Cotton Malone is a former naval officer, US Justice Department agent in the Magellin Billet that specialized in international cases who retired from the government and purchased a bookstore in Copenhagen. Malone served as a government agent for twelve years and retired at a fairly young age for an individual with his skills. He was on a case in Mexico City two years before he quit and witnessed the shooting of Mexican prosecutor Elena Ramirez Rico and her significant other Cai Thorvalsen, a Danish diplomat serving in Mexico City, and the son of Malone’s close friend the reclusive billionaire Henrik Thorvalsen. Malone was wounded during the shooting and for him that was enough. Thorvalsen approached Malone and offered to sell him the bookstore and the friendship flourished. They became involved in a number of important situations and they become best friends. Thorvalsen never gets over the murder of his son and his character is dominated by his feelings of loss and revenge. Other important characters include Cassiopeia Vitt, an archeologist, scholar, and a women of many martial talents. In addition, the reader will become familiar with Stephanie Nell who heads the Magellen Billet, and was Malone’s boss at the Justice Department. Other characters that are included range from National Security advisors to the president, the president himself, other government agents, and a series of terrorists, financial wizards, and other unscrupulous individuals. Alongside these people are historical personages that Berry relies on to enhance his story lines.
One of my favorite Berry novels is THE ALEXANDRA LINK where the reader is presented with a series of questions; what if the biblical basis for the Israeli state was incorrect? What if the real evidence for the creation of the Jewish state was in western Saudi Arabia? What if the ancient translations that led to the writing of the Old Testament from old Hebrew and Greek were open to an interpretation that could destabilize both Israel and Saudi Arabia and reorient the geopolitics of the Middle East? Intertwine the writings of St. Augustine and St. Jerome; add some nefarious characters that would stand to enhance their power and monetary profit, and sprinkle in American politics and you have a stunning novel.
Another favorite is THE LINCOLN MYTH which has as its main theme the concept of secession and whether the Founding Fathers may have supported the idea that the union of the United States was not a perpetual one. Berry develops a scenario for Malone to solve that focuses on Brigham Young, the leader of the Mormon Church in 1854 predicting that the Civil War would occur and that would end the persecution of Mormonism. Young will inform Lincoln where Mormon gold was stored, and Lincoln will provide a document, signed by the Founding Fathers, that said individual states possessed the right to leave the union. There are six more novels in the Cotton Malone series and I look forward to reading the few I have missed including his latest THE 14TH COLONY that deals with Canada, an American constitutional crisis, and a former KGB officer.
If you enjoy counterfactual history, in depth character development, and being kept on the edge of your seat Berry’s Cotton Malone series is for you. For in depth reviews of Steve Berry’s books visit http://www.docs-books.com.