Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Paris Vendetta

The Paris Vendetta is the fifth (my first) Steve Berry thriller to feature Cotton Malone, a former operative of the U.S. Justice Department. Malone, with some help from Danish billionaire Henrik Thorvaldsen, is now the owner of a used-book store in Copenhagen. The men became friends because Malone was coincidentally at the scene of the Mexico City shooting in which Thorvaldsen’s son, along with several others, was killed. Their relationship, which began with Thorvaldsen’s heartfelt appreciation that Malone immediately gunned down some of the shooters that horrible day, has grown into a close one in the minds of both men.

Thorvaldsen, however, is still consumed by the knowledge that the two men most responsible for the Mexico City massacre are still alive. He wants them dead, and he is hoping that Cotton Malone will help him make that happen. Malone is sucked into Thorvaldsen’s plot early one morning when his bookstore is invaded by an American agent running for his life. Soon, the bookstore has been shot up and the two men are on the run.

Malone will learn that one of the men being sought by Thorvaldsen is a British aristocrat who is involved in a plot with a group of financial experts to undermine the world’s economy so that group members can profit from the ensuing chaos. As if that were not enough, the British millionaire is also on a mission of his own to find the looted treasure Napoleon supposedly hid before his exile to Corsica. Unfortunately for him, however, he is not the only one hot on the trail of clues needed to pinpoint the treasure’s final resting place.

The Paris Vendetta serves up typical thriller material. Cotton Malone is a likable character, as are most of those he ends up working with in his attempt to save the world from what The Paris Club has planned for it. In the manner of James Bond and Mission Impossible, Malone also finds himself dealing with a hired terrorist determined to destroy a Paris landmark. His efforts to stop the terrorist are so spectacular that Malone often seems only a step or two short of qualifying as a bona fide super hero.

The most interesting character in the book is Henrik Thorvaldsen, a good man so caught up in grief over the way his son died that he is willing personally to murder the men responsible for that death. Nothing else matters to him anymore. Malone wants to help Thorvaldsen find peace, but for complicated reasons involving The Paris Club and the U.S. Department of Justice, he finds himself opposing the efforts of his old friend.

While The Paris Vendetta has its moments, it is too similar to all those other modern day thrillers out there to stand out as anything very special. Steve Berry’s novel is better written than most thrillers in the sense that he treats history with more respect than most thriller writers do. The problem comes from the feeling one gets that plots like this one have already been written too many times.

Rated at: 2.5

(Review Copy provided by Publisher)


  1. This is interesting. I just finished reviewing Steve's first Cotton Malone novel: The Templar Legacy. I had similar feelings about it. Steve seems to be trying to mimic the great books that came before without giving them much originality to help them stand out from the crowd. He's a good writer but seems to lack imagination.

  2. Andy, maybe it's me. I can't remember the last thriller that has really captured my imagination. I've either outgrown the things or read so many of them that now they all seem derivative of each other. They remind me of those old Saturday morning serials I saw at the movies when I was a kid...all action, little believability.