Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Charlemagne Pursuit by Steve Berry

This is the fourth book featuring the character Cotton Malone. Right off, I have to say that I'm a huge fan of Steve Berry's work and have been anxiously awaiting this novel. This book brings back several characters that have appeared in previous books: Stephanie Nelle, President Danny Daniels, Edwin Davis, and of course, Cotton Malone. It also introduces a twisted German family and a Navy conspiracy. This adventure roams up and down the East coast of the United States, Germany, and Antarctica.

While I enjoyed this book, I was a little disappointed. It didn't seem to grab me the same way the previous books did. I felt that this novel centered on too many relationships and personal conflicts rather than the history/mystery that usually keeps the story moving. Oddly, I enjoyed the chapters about what was happening state-side more than Cotton's journey. The concept behind the story is fascinating, though only really tangentially related to Charlemagne.

All in all, this was a good book. I would not hesitate in recommending it to anyone (though of course I would recommend they read the previous novels first) - in fact, my sister is already desperate to read it. One of the best things about this book was that the end more or less promised a future novel. Steve Berry remains one of my all-time favorite modern novelists.

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Vesuvius Club by Mark Gatiss

The Vesuvius Club by Mark Gatiss was really quite fun to read. A copy was sent to me by the lovely simon_saysuk. The premise is basically that Lucifer Box is a secret agent. He is also a painter and somewhat of a rogue. The story is set in England and moves to Naples, Italy where a sinister plot is waiting to unfold.

Gatiss's writing style is brilliant. Scenes, people, ordinary objects - they are all described vividly and in great detail. I really enjoyed the way things were described using whole palettes of colors and hues. While some authors may drag you down with all this description, Gatiss manages to pull you along at an incredible pace.

Lucifer Box is probably the most well defined character in this grand adventure (and rightly so, as he is the main character). The secondary characters are colorful to be sure, but not nearly as memorable. In fact, I was totally puzzled when a character is reintroduced near the end of the book - I couldn't remember having met them in the first place. Some of the plot "twists" were a little too convenient and sometimes too obvious, but this did not interfere with an otherwise spectacular book.

I heartily recommend this book. If you like spies, evil plots, scandal, and humor then this is the book for you. I look forward to reading the next Lucifer Box novel (The Devil in Amber).