Review

The Venetian Betrayal

by Steve Berry

If
the name “Cotton Malone” isn’t setting off bells
on your Thriller alarm, then you need to jump on THE VENETIAN
BETRAYAL, Steve Berry’s latest novel, and find out for
yourself what all the excitement is about. Malone is Berry’s
trademark creation, an ex-agent for a clandestine U.S. government
agency who simply wants to live in quiet retirement as the
proprietor of a rare book shop in Denmark. The only problem is that
Malone’s past and his work-related talents will not let him
rest. As a result, he is dragged reluctantly, if not kicking and
screaming, back into The Life, usually at great risk.

There are actually two intertwined puzzles that keep Malone
alternating between pursuing and being pursued in THE VENETIAN
BETRAYAL. The first is the final resting place of Alexander the
Great, a mystery whose solution has been lost in antiquity. Irena
Zovastina, the reigning Prime Minister of the newly formed Central
Asian Federation, is obsessed with Alexander and intends to use his
remains as a symbolic rallying point as she attempts to duplicate
his conquest across the Middle East and beyond. The lynchpin of her
plan is to acquire a legendary draught that Alexander possessed,
the administration of which would cure the worst of diseases,
saving the afflicted even from the brink of death. To do this, she
has formed an uneasy alliance with The Council of Ten, a shadowy
organization that has wielded money and power in equal measure for
hundreds of years.

Enrico Vincenti, who is near the end of his term on the Council,
has been quietly plotting to both extend his stay and increase his
already considerable wealth. And he sees a way to do both through
Zovastina’s ruthless ambition. Malone, assisted by the
extremely capable Cassiopeia Witt and the enigmatic Henrik
Thorvaldsen, race against Zovastina and Vincenti to discover the
secret behind Alexander’s grave and, even more importantly,
his mysterious draught, which has the power --- depending upon who
is first to discover its location --- to save (or doom) literally
millions of people.

Berry has gotten better and more ambitious with each of his books,
and THE VENETIAN BETRAYAL continues this pattern. Ports of call for
Malone on this adventure include such disparate locations as
Denmark, Venice and Central Asia, with barely a pause for breath
from page to page. The last 100 pages, in fact, are as fast-paced
as you are likely to find in a novel this year. And with an ending
that is nicely upbeat and softly open-ended, readers will not be
able to help wanting more, and soon.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 24, 2011

The Venetian Betrayal
by Steve Berry

  • Publication Date: December 11, 2007
  • Genres: Fiction, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books
  • ISBN-10: 0345485777
  • ISBN-13: 9780345485779