Review: The Charlemagne Pursuit (Cotton Malone #4) by Steve Berry

Review: The Charlemagne Pursuit (Cotton Malone #4) by Steve BerryThe Charlemagne Pursuit by Steve Berry
Series: Cotton Malone #4
Published by Random House LLC on 2008-12-02
Pages: 509
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BONUS: This edition contains an excerpt from Steve Berry’s The Columbus Affair and a Cotton Malone dossier. As a child, former Justice Department agent Cotton Malone was told his father died in a submarine disaster in the North Atlantic, but now he wants the full story and asks his ex-boss, Stephanie Nelle, to secure the military files. What he learns stuns him: His father’s sub was a secret nuclear vessel lost on a highly classified mission beneath the ice shelves of Antarctica. But Malone isn’t the only one after the truth. Twin sisters Dorothea Lindauer and Christl Falk are fighting for the fortune their mother has promised to whichever of them discovers what really became of their father–who died on the same submarine that Malone’s father captained. The sisters know something Malone doesn’t: Inspired by strange clues discovered in Charlemagne’ s tomb, the Nazis explored Antarctica before the Americans, as long ago as 1938. Now Malone discovers that cryptic journals penned in “the language of heaven,” inscrutable conundrums posed by an ancient historian, and the ill-fated voyage of his father are all tied to a revelation of immense consequence for humankind. In an effort to ensure that this explosive information never rises to the surface, Langford Ramsey, an ambitious navy admiral, has begun a brutal game of treachery, blackmail, and assassination. As Malone embarks on a dangerous quest with the sisters–one that leads them from an ancient German cathedral to a snowy French citadel to the unforgiving ice of Antarctica–he will finally confront the shocking truth of his father’s death and the distinct possibility of his own.

The Charlemagne Pursuit definitely had an interesting premise. Basically, an ancient, advanced culture living in Antarctica helped Western civilization. In WWII, the Nazis sent expeditions to Antarctica with the hope of finding the beginning of an ancient “Aryan” race. This advanced culture had technology and mathematics well before any of the other ancient civilizations on Earth. And, because they were a seafaring society that had an advanced knowledge of longitude, they were able to reach out and impart wisdom to these other civilizations. I’ve always said that Berry’s historical premises are superior to his religious premises. The Charlemagne Pursuit is no different. I was definitely interested.

I think one of the best things about Berry’s Cotton Malone series are the supporting characters. This time, we learn so much more about Stephanie Nell; the Deputy NSA Director, Edwin Davis; and President Danny Daniels (what a ridiculous presidential name, seriously. Who gives someone the same first name as their last name?). I really enjoyed how these characters got on with each other. I was especially surprised at the budding relationship between two of them. Berry fleshes out the President’s character a little more from the earlier book and we learn that he isn’t the idiot that everyone thinks he is.

Cotton spent just about the entire book being skeptical about the pursuit. He’s usually on board with these “quests” right away so I’m not sure why he was so hesitant. Was it because it had something to do with his father? Because he didn’t trust his associates? Yes, is the answer to both of those questions but his skepticism so far into the story was off-putting. If your main character doesn’t believe, why should we?

What kept me from liking this book as much as The Venetian Betrayal is that the book felt unbalanced. I felt Berry spent more time on Stephanie and Edwin’s quest to stop the Admiral than it was on Cotton and the Charlemagne pursuit. I definitely liked Stephanie’s side of the story a lot better but I’m not sure I should have. Like I said, this is Cotton’s story. I want to cheer him on.

Overall, it’s an interesting story but not as good as the earlier book in the series.


© 2014 – 2016, Jessica Workman Holland. All rights reserved.

  • I’m admittedly not a big reader in the mystery thriller genre but this book, or this author, at least sounds very interesting. I might be tempted to give The Venetian Betrayal a go as you said you enjoyed that one more 🙂 Thanks for the honest review

    Obsessive Compulsive Reader

    • JessicaWorkman

      Yeah, the good thing about Steve Berry’s Cotton Malone novels is that they don’t *have* to be read in order. You may miss a few nuances but I think you can read The Venetian Betrayal without missing much.

  • This sounds fascinating, and I love quests. I love the sound of the characters. I will have to check out the first book in this series and this author.

    • JessicaWorkman

      His books are pretty good. The Templar Legacy is the first in the Cotton Malone series. I’d suggest starting there. I always have my issues but in the end, the books entertain me and that’s all I’m looking for. 🙂

  • Sorry to hear that this book wasn’t as strong as the previous books in the series. It is always frustrating when that happens.