Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Paris Vendetta - Steve Berry

2009; 472 pages.  New Author? : No.  Genre : Action.  Book #5 in Berry's Cotton Malone series.  Overall Rating : 8*/10.

    Cotton Malone's bookshop/home is crowded tonight.  Two hitmen have snuck in since he went to bed.  But they're not here to kill him.  Instead they're after an ex-Secret Service agent, Sam Collins, who also broke into Cotton's place after he went to sleep.

    Ah, but Rule #1 for bad guys is - never ever invade the home of the book's hero.

What's To Like...
    The action starts immediately and doesn't stop.  There are lots of storylines.  To wit : (01) Rommel's gold; (02) Napoleon's gold; (03) Evil finance experts rigging the global economy; (04) Henrik Thorvaldsen's revenge; (05) the world's most ruthless terrorist; (06) taking out the Eiffel Tower.

    Steve Berry does a good job interweaving these disparate plotlines, although at times it feels a bit forced.  Most of the book takes place in Paris, and that's always a plus with me.  He even sprinkles a bit of French dialogue in the book, although one gets the feeling that Berry's vocabulaire français is rather limited.  There are twists and surprises, and a well-crafted ending - precisely what you've come to expect from this author.

Kewlest New Word...
 Marplot : a meddlesome person whose activity interferes with the plans of others.

    "Here's another reality," she said.  "Wars have always been financed by debt.  The greater the threat, the greater the debt."
    He waved her off.  "And I know the next part, Eliza.  For any nation to involve itself in war, it must have a credible enemy."
    "Of course.  And if they already exist, magnifico."
    He smiled at her use of his native tongue, the first break in his granite demeanor.
    "If enemies exist," she said, "but lack military might, money can be provided to build that might.  If they don't exist-"  She grinned.  "-they can always be created."  (pgs. 28-29)

    History is prophecy, looking backwards.  (pg. 49)

There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact.  (pg. 124)
    For all its action, The Paris Vendetta is more of a "relationship" book.  Thorvaldsen's obsession with avenging his son's death puts a critical strain on his several-books-long friendship with Cotton, who ultimately will have to choose where his loyalty lies - with his friend (who saved his life) or with his country.

    The action itself is a little less exciting than in the previous books in this series.  First, financiers are inherently somewhat boring as villains.  Second, while I'm sure I'd be thrilled to uncover Napoleon's treasure, it pales a bit cri-fi-wise to Alexander the Great's Tomb, the library at Alexandria, and a lost city beneath Antarctica.

    So for me, this wasn't quite as gripping as the previous book, The Charlemagne Pursuit, reviewed here.  Then again, I gave that one 10*/10, and perfection is difficult to maintain.  The Paris Vendetta may not be the best book in this series, but it's still pretty darn good.  8 Stars.

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