Former Justice Department operative Cotton Malone isn't looking for trouble when it comes knocking at his Copenhagen bookshop. Actually, it breaks and enters in the form of an American Secret Service agent with a pair of assassins on his heels. Malone has his doubts about the anxious young man, but narrowly surviving a ferocious firefight convinces him to follow his unexpected new ally.
Their first stop is the secluded estate of Malone's good friend, Henrik Thorvaldsen. The wily Danish tycoon has uncovered the insidious plans of the Paris Club, a cabal of multimillionaires bent on manipulating the global economy. Only by matching wits with a terrorist-for-hire, foiling a catastrophic attack, and plunging into a desperate hunt for Napoleon's legendary lost treasure can Malone hope to avert international financial anarchy.
But Thorvaldsen's real objective is much more personal: to avenge the murder of his son by the larcenous aristocrat at the heart of the conspiracy. Thorvaldsen's vendetta places Malone in an impossible quandary - one that forces him to choose between friend and country, past and present. Starting in Denmark, moving to England, and ending up in the storied streets and cathedrals of Paris, Malone plays a breathless game of duplicity and death, all to claim a prize of untold value. But at what cost?
©2009 Steve Berry; (P)2009 Random House
"All the Berry hallmarks are here: scale, scope, sweep, history - plus breathless second-by-second suspense. I love this guy." (Lee Child)
This is perhaps Berry's best effort in the Cotton Malone series. Thrilling from the get go, most of the story takes place in France during the present day with a story tie-in to the age of Napoleon Bonaparte. Cotton is put in the position of having to support one series friend and betraying the other series friend. The brunt of the story is the usual treasure chase, but in this outing, it is the strength of the characters that shines through. Berry's writing in this series entry is top notch.
I don't understand all the negativity. I enjoyed the book. Scott Brick read this like he does everything else I've heard him do. I guess you either like him or not. I know a narrator can make or break a book. I had some difficulty in the first third of the story, but got into it after that. Maybe the problem was SB narration but feel there was just too much "setup". If You like Scott Brick's narration style, and a decent mystery, you will enjoy this one.
The rapid switching every several paragraphs among parallel but related parts of the story make it at times incomprehensible for audio. Besides, the story was weak and foolish and the mulitple accents spilled over across different characters.
This is the first time I have been completely driven from an Audible Book by the narrator. The "dripping tonal nuances" became just too much. I should have heeded the warnings of other readers.
I am a hugh fan of Steve Berry and have been waiting for the release of this book as my Christmas treat. Very disappointed. The story felt contrived, the characters disconnected from previous books. Don't waste your time, money, or credits.
I went in optimistic despite the bad reviews for the narrator -- from past experience this can be polarizing. Unfortunately they were right -- I have had to start the book twice in order to even come close to following it; the narrator is just so distracting, it's almost funny. He sounds like he thinks he's auditioning for a Shakespeare play with EVERY line, no matter how innocuous. Wildly over dramatic. I trust if I read the book it would be up to expectations from Steve Berry, but impossible to know for sure with this narrator. I encourage the publisher to re-record this book!
I disagree with the people who didn't like the narrator. I thought he was very good. The story was extremely suspenseful. It was a typical Cotton Malone adventure with characters from Berry's other books. I found it a thoroughly enjoyable listening experience.
I've read the previous reviews and cannot understand why so many have slammed Scott Brick (SB) for his narration - which I have always found excellent.
I think many people who like a book read to them in a drab manner don't deserve the ability of this narrator and should listen only to those books that are read poorly.
Personally, SB rocks and brings even a bad book (which this one is not) to life!
As far as the book is concerned, I found it 'ok', but a bit repative in places. Good plot though and more or less worth the read.
Overall, this is a fairly good book. I liked the themes of friendship and betrayal, and unrestrained greed vs. the morality of making money. The plot moved well enough. The characters were interesting and some were nicely developed, especially Cotton Malone and Torvald.
However, as other reviewers have noted, Scott Brick's narration pretty much spoils the book. He seems to be trying to control the lilt that makes each sentence sound like a question, but otherwise, his narration is just plain awful. He can't do accents at all; his "French" accent sounded like his "Italian" accent and Torvald's accent was unidentifiable. None of them has any claims to authenticity. He reads every sentence with the same degree of gravitas; for example, he uses the same tone to tell the reader how many bridges there are over the Seine as to describe action sequences where a character gets killed.
Do the production people actually listen to the finished product? How could anyone possibly miss how poorly Brick does the job? Random House, and any other publisher using Brick's narration services, needs to seriously reevalute his contract.
If Scott Brick is going to continue narrating audiobooks, he should be properly educated to do so. Otherwise, he should no longer be allowed to spoil the efforts of the authors with his terrible technique.
This book was a thorough letdown. While the story was packed with endless historical references, the characters we have come to know in Malone and Thorvaldsen were like strangers in Berry's latest effort.
The story lines changed with such abruptness that the listener needs a moment to figure out what is happening. This was a tale that took forever to go nowhere.
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