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by Steve Berry

Pub Date: Feb. 6th, 2007
ISBN: 0-345-48575-0
Publisher: Ballantine

European billionaires, Israelis, Saudis and Americans shoot it out in an international search for ancient manuscripts that could drastically alter the map of the Middle East.

Having rested up from their great labors, the cast of The Templar Legacy (2006) faces new perils as they are thrown headlong into yet another there’s-been-a-huge-misunderstanding religious mystery. The ceaseless action begins with the kidnapping of the teenage son of former American secret-agent-turned-bookseller Cotton Malone, whose understandably panicked ex-wife has jetted to Copenhagen, where he now lives. There is the usual warning to keep the police out of it, but Malone has enough sense to enlist the help of his elderly but capable billionaire pal Henrik Thorvaldsen after shadowy evil-doers torch the bookstore as a warning. The kidnapper is Dominick Sabre, murderous right-hand man of elderly but malevolent billionaire Alfred Hermann, current big cheese in the Order of the Golden Fleece, a cabal of super-rich European moguls with a taste for world-scenario management. Thorvaldsen, a Jew, is also in the Order, giving him access to Hermann’s plotting, which has to do with the possibility that much of the great library at Alexandria was shifted offsite before its destruction. Amid the ancient papyri and scrolls may be some early Old Testaments that point to serious geographic misunderstandings over the millennia, mistakes that would undermine the claims of the world’s three monotheistic religions. Given a deadline—or the kid dies—to find his old pal George Haddad, who holds the clues to the location of the library, Malone jets to London, ex-wife in tow, in time to see Haddad assassinated, which forces him into an uneasy alliance with the treacherous Sabre. In the U.S., meanwhile, Malone’s former boss uncovers involvement at the Highest Level. The president’s life is in danger.

Fast action and wild plotting largely mask lackluster prose in Berry’s latest what-if thriller.