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The Charlemagne Pursuit: A Novel (Cotton Malone) Mass Market Paperback – November 24, 2009

3.9 out of 5 stars 245 customer reviews
Book 4 of 10 in the Cotton Malone Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. In bestseller Berry's fourth thriller to feature ex–Justice Department agent Cotton Malone (after The Venetian Betrayal), Malone embarks on a search for answers about his father, Capt. Forrest Malone, after learning that instead of dying in 1971 in a nuclear sub accident in the North Atlantic, his father actually died while on a secret submarine mission to the Antarctic. Meanwhile, bad guy Adm. Langford Ramsey schemes to become the next ranking officer of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The two story lines merge as a group led by Malone races to Antarctica, where they find a strange underground city belonging to the Aryans, an advanced race who inhabited the earth at the dawn of our own civilization. A meticulous researcher, Berry carefully integrates such elements as Charlemagne, Nazis, ancient manuscripts, historical puzzles and scientific surprises into the plot. Those who relish suspense in the Da Vinci Code vein will snap this one up, the best yet in the series. 10-city author tour. (Dec.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. Berry outdoes himself in his latest Cotton Malone adventure (after The Venetian Betrayal). Using his connections in the federal government, Cotton asks to see a classified file that details the mission that resulted in his father's death. He knew his father died on a submarine but none of the shocking details about where or why he died. But Cotton is not the only person who wants this file, and they kill to get it. Nazi missions to the Antarctic, ancient societies, and a valuable artifact from Charlemagne's tomb all play key roles as Malone uncovers the truth. So much is going on that there is enough material for two good books, let alone one great one. Mixed in with the complicated action, Berry finds the time to explore the characters as well, making this his most personal and best book to date. For all fiction collections. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 8/08.]—Jeff Ayers, Seattle P.L.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Series: Cotton Malone (Book 4)
  • Mass Market Paperback: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; Reprint edition (November 24, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345485807
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345485809
  • Product Dimensions: 4.4 x 1.6 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (245 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #54,708 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Steve Berry is the New York Times and #1 internationally bestselling author of 11 Cotton Malone adventures and 4 stand alone novels. His books have been translated into 40 languages with over 20,000,000 copies in 51 countries.

History lies at the heart of every Steve Berry novel. It's his passion, one he shares with his wife, Elizabeth, which led them to create History Matters, a foundation dedicated to historic preservation. Since 2009 Steve and Elizabeth have crossed the country to save endangered historic treasures, raising over one million dollars via lectures, receptions, galas, luncheons, dinners and their popular writers' workshops. To date, over 2,800 students have attended those workshops.

In 2012 and 2013 their work was recognized by the American Library Association, which named Steve as the spokesman for National Preservation Week. He also serves on the Smithsonian Libraries Advisory Board. He has received the Royden B. Davis Distinguished Author Award; the 2013 Barnes & Noble Writers for Writers Award; his novel The Columbus Affair earned him the Anne Frank Human Writes Award; and International Thriller Writers bestowed him their Silver Bullet for his work with historic preservation. A 2010 NPR survey named The Templar Legacy one of the top 100 thrillers ever written.

Steve was born and raised in Georgia, graduating from the Walter F. George School of Law at Mercer University. He was a trial lawyer for 30 years and held elective office for 14 of those years. He is a founding member of International Thriller Writers--a group of more than 3,000 thriller writers from around the world--and served three years as its co-president.

For more information, visit www.steveberry.org.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I love a good thriller, and there just aren't enough of them around. So I was thrilled to discover Steve Berry's early novels. I enjoyed the first one or two of his Cotton Malone books as well. But as he has moved from one book to the next, the body count seems to rise, the characterizations have become more stilted, the action choppier, and the plots have tumbled into territory that become laugh-out-loud implausible. (Sure, Berry provides detailed author's notes showing exactly how he develops his plots, and the historical clues that he relies on, but the real test isn't whether he can make a case for it in the author's note, but whether it feels 'natural' to someone reading.)

I would probably have given this book a 3.5 star rating if the system allowed it. But the core plot device -- the quest in Antarctica for a mysterious superior civilization that preceeded the Mayans, the ancient Egyptians, et. al., that had a connection with Charlemagne, and that evil forces (in the person of a manipulative U.S. Admiral, Langord Ramsey) want to keep secret for their own reasons -- is just too strained for four stars.

Nor is the writing good enough to carry the book over the four-star rating threshold. It's choppy, a la James Patterson, with 94 chapters in only 500 pages, a lot of one-sentence paragraphs, and 8-word long sentences. The perspective keeps jumping back and forth between antiquarian book dealer Cotton Malone and his former intelligence boss, Stephanie Nelle. Each time a gun fires in one location, the action immediately jumps back to the other protagonist. These are all tools that all suspense writers employ, but again, they work best when the reader doesn't realize that they are being used at all.
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Format: Hardcover
Steve Berry has the formula for interesting books.

1- His main character, Cotton Malone, is complex and interesting with the plausible background of having once worked for the government but has decided to retire to the life of a bookseller in Europe (good so far);
2- Malone has as a reoccurring circle of friends who seem to have endless connections and unimaginable wealth, all of which he seems to have access to at his beck and call (well, it is fiction);
3- Berry's books are historically-based and often revealing, giving credence to his stories and making the storyline more interesting (it's amazing what you can discover from his books);
4- He makes his stories even more interesting by situating them in fascinating, actual surroundings with great detail and explanation (at least most of the time);

So what the problem?

Although I look forward to reading each of his books based upon the features above, I know I'm going to be disappointed at the end. Berry seems to take one step too many. His leaps from the realm of possibility into the circle of absurdity...not much, but just enough to deflate me.

His character, his supporting cast, his locations, even the situations and premises are all outstanding, but he takes a well-created human character with human skills and human frailties and moves the plot into
abnormal, absurd situations. I, for one, would be far more interested in having Mather seek a long-lost copy of Shakespeare's plays (a plausable notion) rather than a long-lost civilization (okay, if we must).

Steve Berry's books are always fun, enjoyable reads, if for nothing more than the interesting, historical facts that surrounds the situation. But the final chapters are flawed. Are the endings satisfactory?
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Format: Hardcover
This was my first novel by Steve Berry, and I was impressed with it as a stand-alone book. There were occasional references to events and characters of the past, but only when it was relevant to the story. You do not need to read the previous books in the series to follow what's going on, though I'm sure they would give you extra insight into some of the characters.

The story itself was excellent. I love history and historical fiction, and all of the "history" that is unearthed by the characters was plausible. The action and dialogue were well written and paced... something I was not expecting after having read Dan Brown and (mistakenly) presuming that this novel would also require some serious eye-rolling. I connected with most of the characters, and spent most of the time wondering who were the good guys and who were the bad guys.

Not only was I very pleasantly surprised by the quality of the writing in this book, but it was also quite an action-packed page turner. I had a hard time putting it down! I am, however, knocking off a star for some slight character incongruities I noticed. So it's not a perfect literary masterpiece, but it is far and above the typical "historical thriller" genre and a very fun read.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have long wondered how Steve Berry could maintain his pace of writing a novel per year. I believe the effort required has begun to take its toll. I have read 5 of the Cotton Malone novels and really enjoyed them. I appreciated how Mr. Berry took some "mystery of history" and spun out a plausible scenario for it, cutting back and forth between locations and situations to keep suspense high. I always felt I was learning something interesting whilst enjoying a good read (although the resolutions of said mysteries are fictional, the details surrounding each mystery are largely factual - Mr. Berry spells out the difference at the end of each book).

In the Charlemagne Pursuit form solidly trumps content. The cinematic scene-cutting which is one of Mr. Berry's trademarks seems to become a crutch used to keep readers' interest high when the plot cannot. Somehow the author was unable to make this "mystery" very compelling, and the plot really stretches credulity. The characters are one-dimensional, women in particular. A major plot point is meant to flesh out Cotton's character, but it was an unsatisfying attempt. This book was more repetitive and cliched than the author's previous novels. For example, I felt I would scream if I read one more time that someone was "being played." And the cliff-hanger final sentence of the book felt like a cheap trick meant to boost sales of the next volume.

I admire Mr. Berry's work ethic, but I feel that his creativity would get a much-needed "re-boot" if he perhaps tried writing his next book in a different format and perhaps with different and more complex characters.
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