Thursday, February 5, 2009
Book Look Review " The Venetian Betrayal"
As you can see from my vacation picture this was not one of my favorites. While visiting Gator World in Florida I fed the novel “The Venetian Betrayal” by Steve Berry to the alligators. Our guide told us to trail our fingers in the water to attract the big gators. I used my reading material to sweeten the bait.
It should have been the perfect beach book but it wasn’t. I read the paperback jacket description which included these tantalizing words: “Trekking from Denmark to Venice to Central Asia, Cotton and Cassiopeia are determined to solve an ancient puzzle whose solution could destroy or save millions of people – depending on who finds the lost tomb first.” It sounds like a great adventure book doesn’t it?
The book begins with a bang. An explosion at a Danish museum incinerates everything except Cotton Malone, former Justice Department agent turned rare-book dealer. (That alone is a bit of a stretch). Buildings across Europe are being turned to ash to disguise the theft of rare gold medallions. Since every fire is the same, it is a pretty obvious pattern. The plot bounces back and forth between locations and it is often difficult to track the characters in this rollercoaster thriller.
At first I thought I might like the wicked Irina Zovastina, queen of the bad guys. When she walloped that goat-carcass-bag into the goal passing up all the men on the other team racing her speeding stallion while carrying a whip in her mouth, I kind of liked her as the villain. But then, no, she turned out to be too psychotic that I couldn’t be on her team. She is obsessed with finding the hidden corpse of Alexander the Great. She is also into germ warfare. You can see why she was the queen of the bad guys.
The good guy team is basically Cotton, Cassiopeia and Henrik Thorvaldsen. They are the heroes out to stop the bad guy team and save the world. That’s pretty much it.
All the current popular fiction topics are there. Religion, politics, history, and science are stirred up in a 500 page bestseller. Homosexuality, the cure for aids, environmentalists, corrupt world leaders, and the usual required assortment of James Bond types make this a less than palatable stew. This is why I had to feed it to the alligator at Gator World. I’m just doing my small part to save the world from bad literature.