Charlemagne Pursuit

The Charlemagne Pursuit

by Steve Berry

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I’m Kim Alexander and this is Fiction Nation. The book is The Charlemagne Pursuit by Steve Berry.

You know those books that have bright colorful cartoons of the lower half of skinny women carrying shopping bags? Or the ones that have extreme closeups of a woman’s face, a little blurry? (Big Face books were very hot in the 80s.) Those are, as you know, chick books. Well, there’s Êthe male version of that — the Man Book. The covers of man-books are usually black or dark blue with white letters and a map, water, explosions — something shiny. The hero is brooding and troubled and has a weird name. There are secrets. There are betrayals. The Charlemagne Pursuit is definitely a Man Book — it’s got sparkly wet cobblestones on the cover, and the brooding, troubled hero is named Cotton. But guess what: I really liked it.

Steve Berry has written about justice agent-turned-rare book dealer Cotton Malone several times before, and he’s interested in all the things that make me pay attention — the Templars, the Amber Room, the Romanovs, the Inquisition — oooo, conspiracy theories, yes! This time our hero is learning the truth about the death of his father aboard a doomed submarine back in the 70’s, and grappling — literally — with twin German ice princess weirdoes who are locked in a death battle for a family fortune. The best part of this book for me was spending time in Antarctica — truly the end of the world and completely fascinating. There are secrets under the ice, Nazis, a mysterious language, Charlemagne himself pops up (which is always nice), and Steve Berry even takes some time from globe-trotting and double crossing to write some characters with depth and grace. (Watch for Cotton’s old Justice boss Stephanie Nelle, who’s tough, smart and I’d have a beer with her.) Cotton even learns a little something about himself — although introspection doesn’t come easily in a Man Book.

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