The Charlemagne pursuit

Steve Berry, 1955-

Large print - 2008

A mysterious manuscript discovered in the tomb of Charlemagne sends Cotton Malone on a perilous international quest that takes him and twin sisters with their own agenda from an ancient German cathedral to the harsh, unforgiving world of Antarctica in pursuit of the truth about the death of his father on a classified sub mission beneath Antarctica.

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New York : Rabdom House Large Print 2008.
Main Author
Steve Berry, 1955- (-)
Large print ed
Item Description
"A novel."
Physical Description
758 p. (large print) : map ; 24 cm
Contents unavailable.
Review by Booklist Review

Berry's Cotton Malone series is beginning to develop a case of been there, done that. In this fourth installment, the globe-trotting ex-government agent turned bookseller is caught up in the mystery of Charlemagne, the eighth-century empire builder whose tomb is somehow linked to an early Nazi exploration of Antarctica and, even stranger, to the death of Cotton's own father. The story follows the by-now overly familiar course: Cotton is thrust immediately into life-threatening danger and spends the rest of the novel evading pursuers and pursuing the solution to a historical puzzle. There are colorful bad guys, likable good guys, and plenty of action scenes (it's a mystery why no one has turned these books into Indiana Jones-like movies). As in previous episodes, the dialogue ranges from graceful to clunky, and the frequent chunks of historical background are worked into the narrative in ways that vary from seamless to clumsy. This is a solid action thriller that will appeal to the author's fans, but how long Berry can prolong the series without tinkering even a bit with his formula is the real question here.--Pitt, David Copyright 2008 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

In his fourth adventure, Copenhagen bookseller (and former U.S. government agent) Cotton Malone seeks the truth about his father, the commander of an experimental submarine that vanished in 1971. His quest makes him a target of the murderously ambitious Admiral Ramsey, an architect of the coverup, as well as an unwilling competitor and ally to twin German heiresses also looking for information about the fate of the submarine and its mission to Antarctica to search for an ancient civilization. Scott Brick's reading is perfectly acceptable, if not exceptional, and he keeps the many action sequences well paced. A reasonable attempt is made to differentiate between the genders of the characters, but Brick's accents (particularly the German) skirt the thin line between believable and comedic. His reading doesn't detract from the text of this solidly exciting, over-the-top thriller, but it doesn't enhance it, either. A Ballantine hardcover (Reviews, Sept. 29). (Dec.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Library Journal Review

What a shock. Berry regular Cotton Malone always thought his father died when his sub sank in the North Atlantic, not on a secret mission under Antarctica. Now he's tracking down the whole story--following clues from a manuscript found in Charlemagne's tomb. With a ten-city tour by (ahem) bookstore request, though there is library marketing. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review

Secret-agent-turned-bookseller Cotton Malone searches for the truth about his father's death; uncovers revelations about a brilliant early civilization spurned by the Nazis; and earns the enmity of an endlessly evil admiral. Our manly middle-aged recurring hero (The Venetian Betrayal, 2007, etc.) barely remembers his father, a naval officer whose submarine sank without a trace in 1971 when Malone was just ten, but he's got a line on the truth about that sinking, an incident the Navy has covered up to the present day. Malone's ex-boss Stephanie Nelle discharges a debt by producing a top-secret report on the sinking, long kept buried by Adm. Langford Ramsey, chief of naval intelligence. In the way of thrillers, Malone must receive the report at a tram stop high in the Alps and villains must immediately try to snatch it back, forcing him to toss a bad man from a moving ski lift and to beat a bad woman within an inch of her life. Within hours, Malone becomes involved with a Bavarian billionaire family, the Oberhausers, whose patriarchs believed that the emperor Charlemagne and his trusty lieutenant Einhard were chums with the Watchers, survivors of a brilliant civilization that had its peak long before the pyramids. Hard-bitten matriarch Isabel Oberhauser and her beautiful but fatally conflicted twin daughters, Christl and Dorothea, are interested in the secret report because the twins' dad was also on that submarine, which went missing not in the Atlantic, as promulgated by the Navy, but off Antarctica, where the Watchers' civilization had its heyday. Meanwhile, back in the United States, Adm. Ramsey, who knows everything about that ancient society, has dispatched his favorite hired killer to create an opening at the top of the naval structure and sent another underling to eliminate Malone and the Oberhausers. Thank goodness we have a shrewd president. Berry sticks to his successful but bland fact-and-fantasy format. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

ONE Garmisch, Germany Tuesday, December 11, The Present 1:40 pm Cotton Malone hated enclosed spaces. His current unease was amplified by a packed cable car. Most of the passengers were on vacation, dressed in colorful garb, shouldering poles and skis. He sensed a variety of nationalities. Some Italians, a few Swiss, a handful of French, but mainly Germans. He'd been one of the first to climb aboard and, to relieve his discomfort, he'd made his way close to one of the frosty windows. Ten thousand feet above and closing, the Zugspitze stood silhouetted against a steel- blue sky, the imposing gray summit draped in a late- autumn snow. Not smart, agreeing to this location. The car continued its giddy ascent, passing one of several steel tres-tles that rose from the rocky crags. He was unnerved, and not simply from the crowded surroundings. Ghosts awaited him atop Germany's highest peak. He'd avoided this rendezvous for nearly four decades. People like him, who buried their past so determinedly, should not help it from the grave so easily. Yet here he was, doing exactly that. Vibrations slowed as the car entered, then stopped at the summit station. Skiers flooded off toward another lift that would take them down to a high- altitude corrie, where a chalet and slopes waited. He didn't ski, never had, never wanted to. He made his way through the visitor center, identified by a yellow placard as MŸncher Haus. A restaurant dominated one half of the building, the rest housed a theater, a snack bar, an observatory, souvenir shops, and a weather station. He pushed through thick glass doors and stepped out onto a railed terrace. Bracing Alpine air stung his lips. According to Stephanie Nelle his contact should be waiting on the observation deck. One thing was obvious. Ten thousand feet in the high Alps certainly added a height-ened measure of privacy to their meeting. The Zugspitze lay on the border. A succession of snowy crags rose south toward Austria. To the north spanned a soup- bowl valley ringed by rock- ribbed peaks. A gauze of frosty mist shielded the German vil-lage of Garmisch and its companion, Partenkirchen. Both were sports meccas, and the region catered not only to skiing but also bobsledding, skating, and curling. More sports he'd avoided. The observation deck was deserted save for an elderly couple and a few skiers who'd apparently paused to enjoy the view. He'd come to solve a mystery, one that had preyed on his mind ever since that day when the men in uniforms came to tell his mother that her husband was dead. "Contact was lost with the submarine forty- eight hours ago. We dispatched search and rescue ships to the North Atlantic, which have combed the last known position. Wreckage was found six hours ago. We waited to tell the families until we were sure there was no chance of survivors." His mother had never cried. Not her way. But that didn't mean she wasn't devastated. Years passed before questions formed in his teenage mind. The government offered little explanation beyond official re-leases. When he'd first joined the navy he'd tried to access the court of inquiry's investigative report on the sub's sinking, but learned it was classified. He'd tried again after becoming a Justice Department agent, possessed of a high security clearance. No luck. When Gary, his fifteen-year- old, visited over the summer, he'd faced new questions. Gary had never known his grandfather, but the boy had wanted to know more about him and, especially, how he died. The press had covered the sink-ing of the USS Blazek in November 1971, so they'd read many of the old accounts on the Internet. Their talk had rekindled his own doubts- enough that he'd finally done something about them. He plunged balled fists into his parka and wandered the terrace. Telescopes dotted the railing. At one stood a woman, her dark hair tied in an unflattering bun. She was dressed in a bright outfit, skis and poles propped beside her, studying the valley below. He casually walked over. One rule he'd learned long ago. Never hurry. It only bred trouble. "Quite a scene," he said. She turned. "Certainly is." Her face was the color of cinnamon which, combined with what he regarded as Egyptian features in her mouth, nose, and eyes signaled some Middle Eastern ancestry. "I'm Cotton Malone." "How did you know I was the one who came to meet you?" He motioned at the brown envelope lying at the base of the tele-scope. "Apparently this is not a high- pressure mission." He smiled. "Just running an errand?" "Something like that. I was coming to ski. A week off, finally. Al-ways wanted to do it. Stephanie asked if I could bring"-she motioned at the envelope-"that along." She went back to her viewing. "You mind if I finish this? It cost a euro and I want to see what's down there." She revolved the telescope, studying the German valley that stretched for miles below. "You have a name?" he asked. "Jessica," she said, her eyes still to the eyepiece. He reached for the envelope. Her boot blocked the way. "Not yet. Stephanie said to make sure you understand that the two of you are even." Last year he'd helped out his old boss in France. She'd told him then that she owed him a favor and that he should use it wisely. And he had. "Agreed. Debt paid." She turned from the telescope. Wind reddened her cheeks. "I've heard about you at the Magellan Billet. A bit of a legend. One of the original twelve agents." "I didn't realize I was so popular." "Stephanie said you were modest, too." He wasn't in the mood for compliments. The past awaited him. "Could I have the file?" Her eyes sparked. "Sure." He retrieved the envelope. The first thought that flashed through his mind was how something so thin might answer so many questions. "That must be important," she said. Another lesson. Ignore what you don't want to answer. "You been with the Billet long?" "Couple of years." She stepped from the telescope mount. "Don't like it, though. I'm thinking about getting out. I hear you got out early, too." As carelessly as she handled herself, quitting seemed like a good ca-reer move. During his twelve years he'd taken only three vacations, during which he'd stayed on constant guard. Paranoia was one of many occupational hazards that came with being an agent, and two years of voluntary retirement had yet to cure the malady. "Enjoy the skiing," he said to her. Tomorrow he'd fly back to Copenhagen. Today he was going to make a few stops at the rare- book shops in the area-an occupational hazard of his new profession. Bookseller. She threw him a glare as she grabbed her skis and poles. "I plan to." They left the terrace and walked back through the nearly deserted visitor center. Jessica headed for the lift that would take her down to the corrie. He headed for the cable car that would drop him ten thou-sand feet back to ground level. He stepped into the empty car, holding the envelope. He liked the fact that no one was aboard. But just before the doors closed, a man and woman rushed on, hand in hand. The attendant slammed the doors shut from the outside and the car eased from the station. He stared out the forward windows. Enclosed spaces were one thing. Cramped, enclosed spaces were another. He wasn't claustrophobic. More a sense of freedom denied. He'd tolerated it in the past-having found himself underground on more than one occasion-but his discomfort was one reason why, years ago, when he joined the navy, unlike his father, he hadn't opted for submarines. "Mr. Malone." He turned. The woman stood, holding a gun. "I'll take that envelope." From the Hardcover edition. Excerpted from The Charlemagne Pursuit by Steve Berry All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.