The Charlemagne Pursuit
Ballantine, Dec 2008, $26.00
Ever since he was a child former espionage agent Cotton Malone believed his father, Captain Forrest Malone died in 1971 in a nuclear submarine accident in the North Atlantic. Now he seeks closure with learning the rest of the story so he asks his former supervisor at DOJ Stephanie Nelle to help him. She obtains the file that states his father was the captain of a nuclear vessel performing a Top Secret mission in Antarctica when he died.
At the same time twins Dorothea Lindauer and Christl Falk compete for their maternal inheritance promised to whoever uncovers what happened to their father, who served under Forrest’s command in the Antarctic. They know there is a link to enigmatic findings discovered in Charlemagne’s tomb and the Nazis late 1930s exploration of the icy continent. Malone, following up on what Nelle provides him, also finds puzzling journal entries. Malone and the sisters meet and agree to team up heading from Europe to Antarctica to learn of their respective deaths of their fathers; while deadly ambitious Admiral Langford Ramsey needs them permanently iced as the revealing of the truth will destroy his career plans of becoming Joint Chief of Staff.
The fourth Malone “Brownian” thriller (see THE TEMPLAR LEGACY, THE ALEXANDRIA LINK and THE VENETIAN BETRAYAL) is the best of the exciting saga. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Malone learns what he knew about his dad’s death was false and never slows down especially when he leads the battling sisters to what is under the ice in Antarctica (though that revelation is not a fresh concept). Ramsey is a nasty villain whose pragmatic application of American military politics means blackmailing your rivals and anyone who might harm your career; and if that fails kill them. Steve Berry is at his best with the enigmatic Charlemagne code, the deaths of the dads, and the ancient civilization that tie together through the pursuit of the heroes for the truth and the villain to conceal the truth.