Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Steve Berry - The Alexandria Link

Among the books to fall into my lap recently (link) was The Alexandria Link by Steve Berry.

The novel starts with a bit of an epilogue the purpose of which becomes clear later. The second chapter is when the action starts. Cotton Malone, ex- US agent finds his ex-wife on his doorstep in Denmark to inform him that their son had been kidnapped. Within minutes he finds his house and shop burned to ashes, and is on the run from assassins as he tries to unravel the mystery of his son’s kidnapping.

Several other links open up. Stephanie, Cotton Malone’s ex-boss finds herself embroiled in conspiracies of various sorts. Across the globe in Vienna, another thread in the story is revealed when a mysterious organization called The Order of the Golden Fleece that seems interested in causing economic and political instability by using religious controversies, is found to be embroiled in the kidnapping of Gary Malone.

Soon the kidnapping angle is discarded when it is revealed that the actual quest is the lost library of Alexandria and Cotton Malone is being coerced into tracing it. As the novel progresses, the shit rises higher, and all the good characters seem on the verge of elimination. Sigh !

It’s been quite a while since I read a racy bestseller. As they go, The Alexandria Link is gripping and well written, and keeps you turning pages. Each chapter has this soap opera kind of ‘gasp’ endings which is supposed to egg you on to read the next page without break. It works most times, at times it bugs you. There is plenty of categorical listing of good and bad guys – US, Israel are good guys, Arabs – BAD! Europeans – not too good. All these simplistic allusions get to you at times. Anyhow they are too superficial to really affect you. A lot of heavy tracts of ancient manuscripts are thrown in to make you feel you dealing with serious history. There is a Dan Brown like chase for clues and links that ONLY Cotton Malone is able to decode.

How Sweet!

Now that reminds me of the horribly cheesy ending of Superman II, the Christopher Reeve one (Mind you, I liked the movie). The trio of Zod, Ursa and Non are vanquished, the world is set right. The President of the US is restored to the ‘throne’ of the free world. Supe comes flying in, resplendent in his eye blinding blue suit with the red undie and brings back the top of the White House with the flag with was blown away by bad man. Dhan Tan Na! Superman is here and all is well with the world.

As an aside, I really like the Indian politicians who are so obviously bad, they are human! In books like these, the President of USA is depicted as some kind of an un-impeachable hero. Almost like royalty.

Though this book is better written than the Dan Brown ones, I must say I liked Da Vinci Code better than this. At least he kept the Prez out of it and turned it into a genuine thriller.

The top dog in this genre is undoubtedly Umberto Eco with his The Name of the Rose; these two gentlemen don’t even come close.


couchpapaya said...

oh i think the worst of the thriller heroes with superhero complexes is the dirk pitt series by clive cussler ... have u read these? there's even a hwood movie starring matthew mcconahey (sp?) - sahara i think- but they killed whatever was interesting in the books in that movie. anyways, re. the superhero-giri i believe in one book the hero even survived at the bottom of the ocean for weeks lol however, i did read each and every one of them!

i really must get around to reading umberto eco, i once brought foucault's pendulum home and then the sheer size of it scared me off!

Capt. Anup Murthy said...

I have read this book too. Steve Berry is better than other dramatic Dan Brown books but yes, I agree, there is too much of political "interference" and yes the US Prez is always coming out looking like the upholder of World freedom and global policeman to boot. His other book The Venetian Betrayal has the same set of characters, Cotton Malone and his cohorts and yes President Daniels of the United States is also there. Sometimes I wonder of some of these writers bring in these kind of characters in a book to attract someone on Hollywood to maybe buy the rights of the book and turn it into a movie. Dan surely has been doing that.

Capt. Anup Murthy said...

In my comment above, I have typed "of" where I meant "if" and I wrote someone "on" Hollywood when I actually meant to write "in". It's one of those days!

avdi said...

CP I know about Sahara, but not about Clive Cussler. Anup has suggested Michelle Malon, and I am going to get one of her books.

Foucault's Pendulum is pretty confusing, the wild goose chase after the Holy Grail is even more convulted than the Dan Brown one. But of course it is a much superior book than the DB one. There are no categorical (and controversial) discoveries in Foucault like in Dan Brown's book. But his other two books, The Island of the Time Before and Name of the Rose are breathtaking.

avdi said...

Anup, I am so bad with my prepositions that I am not likely to notice if anyone else goofs up. :) I should have paid closer attention in school.

You are right, a movie right is probably what these ppl have in mind. But really, sigh, think of Sherlock Holmes. What did he have in mind? Just a wish to write these stories, I suppose. And see how they have survived and still providing grist for the movie mill.

avdi said...

I cant pinpoint Dan Brown's popularity, Anup. Except that he does not hesitate of make some categorical claims (a good bluffer?) and that his books are pretty racy.

Vee said...

I guess it's high time I took ride to Blossom. I have none of the books you've been writing on these days...:(

avdi said...

I am dying to visit Blossom. I have heard so much about it. If I ever visit Blore, do take me to this place, Vee.

Capt. Anup Murthy said...

There's a new movie called Sherlock Holmes (since you mentioned SH I just remembered), slated for release on 25th of december. They are showing the trailer for this movie already in Singapore. Arthur Conan Doyle would have made tons of money if he had lived in this era for, surely, they would have made many movies by now, on the World's (still) most famous detective.

I think Dan hit it off big time when he wrote DV Code, and once that kind of fame is established, he can churn out practically anything and sell in huge numbers. I guess the latest was tailor made for the movies too.

Vee said...

Of course, It's Mecca for us readers. There was another one next to Blossom.... that chap closed it down// Blossom is still rocking...

avdi said...

Anup - I was going to mention that. I saw that trailer on you tube. The casting is fab. I love it. Jude Law as Doctor Watson, Robert Downey Jr as Sherlock - I would have preferred an English actor there, accent and all. I adore Brit accent. This trailer had loads of explosions, but hmm lets see. It might be exciting.

I am a huge fan of the BBC series, and feel that cant be bested.

avdi said...

Vee - I love book mecca's. My current assignment is to list all the books I own on

Capt. Anup Murthy said...

Robert Downey Jr is a good actor and sort of fits the part but, like you, I feel that a British actor with a propah accent should have done it for authenticity. Agree abt the TV serial.

Smita said...

Hmmm never read the author!!!

I am not enjoying thriller a lot these days!! May be when am in mood might look for it :)

avdi said...

Smita - I know.. it depends on the mood entirely.

Anup - :) Lets hope the movie does not disappoint us.

Ashwin Baindur said...

@Couchpapaya, 'Foucalt's Pendulum' is a bit off as compared to "The Name of the Rose".

The NOTR, which has been made into a movie starring Sean Connery as the protagonist, is best read in a languid manner enjoying the language and immersing in the medieval atmosphere.

Its like savouring a large VSOP cognac in a balloon glass in/on your most comfortable clothes/sofa with old friends.

avdi said...

Ashwin I agree and I am sure CP will 2.

Balloon glas... hmmmmmmmmm

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nishitak said...

haha, I have never read any Steve Berry as yet. Is he an American writer? Don't want to sound biased, but most American thriller novels are sooo jingoistic and over-the-top.

One terrible example of this is Brad Thor...

James Rollins is not too bad though

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