Steve Berry continues his "Cotton Malone" series with The Paris Vendetta, and once again Malone is in the middle of international intrigue. There are assassination plots, searches for hidden treasure, battles between enemies and even friends, and a taste of romance thrown into the mix. In other words, it has it all in its presentation of the inimitable Berry style.
The book begins with a burst of action as Malone has gunmen entering his bookstore with the intent to inflict harm. He is in the residence upstairs when he discovers a young man coming up the stairs. This man turns out to be Sam Collins, a Secret Service Agent who has come to alert Cotton to the fact that his best friend Henrik Thorvaldsen needs him. Cotton is willing to help Henrik but first he and Sam must deal with the gunmen who have followed Sam to Cotton's place.
From there the plot takes Cotton to Paris where there is a planned execution of several of the world's richest men and women. This is where the story gets really good and a scene putting Cotton in a chase with an unmanned plane is as exciting as anything else you will read in the next few months or years.
Berry always includes a history lesson in his novels and this time out it concerns Napoleon and his desire to have his son inherit his wealth. Berry thrives on research and it shows. There is information on top of information in this story and you can learn more about Napoleon than you probably ever wanted to know.
Luckily Berry doesn't pile all the history on you at one time. He distributes it through the novel at various intervals so that it never slows down the speed of the plot. Moving the story forward is always Berry's utmost goal.
In this book the friendship of Malone and Thorvaldsen is put to the test. They have been through a lot of dangerous situations and their bonding has been forged by fire. Seeing it stretched to the breaking point by circumstances that come forward in the story gives this book an emotional depth of feeling.
The addition of Sam and his new friend Megan also adds to the enjoyment. These two new characters are integral to the goings on in The Paris Vendetta and many assume they will return in future adventures with Malone. At least it is hoped that they will.
Steve Berry gets better and better with each new book and The Paris Vendetta continues along that positive trajectory. He has created a story that holds your interest and challenges your mind. Bring on the next one!
The Paris Vendetta is published by Ballantine Books. It contains 432 pages and costs $26.00.
Jackie K. Cooper