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.
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.