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October 11, 2008 / schulerbooks

The Charlemagne Pursuit, by Steve Berry

One question that’s always haunted ex-Magellan Billet agent Cotton Malone was what happened to his father. He was told a line of obvious bull by the Navy, long ago, and now he wants real answers. But as soon as he gets his hands on them someone tries to steal them at gunpoint…

…at which point we know we’re reading Steve Berry.

The big secret: his father was lost on an experimental submarine on a secret mission in Antarctica. The mystery deepens when we learn that the fate of his father is connected to a scheming pair of German sisters, who also lost their father to the same disaster, and are competing with each other to solve the riddle in order to gain the family fortune from their domineering and creepy mother. Keys to ancient secrets are unlocked, bullets are fired, and questionable alliances formed, all under the shadow of the Third Reich.

Oh, yes — the Nazis are involved. They’d stumbled across signs of an early super-race of beings who were very technologically advanced for their time, and, thinking them to be the Aryans of their ideal, sent an expedition to Antarctica to find them. And they followed clues left behind by Charlemagne, which the sisters’ family uncovered, in part.

Meanwhile, there’s a dangerous, high-ranking fellow in the Navy who knows what happened on the sub, and is trying to kill not only Malone, but anyone who knows anything about it, or his own sordid past. And there’s another fellow who wants help bringing him down from Malone’s old boss at the Billet, Stephane, and will say anything to anyone to get it…

The Charlemagne Pursuit is a high-stakes chase across both history and Continents, as the various players seek their quarry in pursuit of knowledge or power. Like many of Berry’s thrillers, it combines the unraveling of ancient mysteries with political intrigue and non-stop action, often at the expense of total understanding of why a particular plot-point might be important, or relevant.

However, as with most of Berry’s work, the thrills and the mysteries are so good that you don’t tend to care about those concerns until the book’s well over — kind of like mulling over the weak points of a movie after you’ve left the theater. In spite of having a lot of questions after the book was over, I can say I enjoyed the ride quite a lot, and would recommend it to anyone who liked Berry’s earlier works (with or without Cotton Malone).

The Charlemagne Pursuit drops 12/09/08

– Reviewed by Jim Tremlett, Eastwood

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