Title: The Paris Vendetta
Author: Steve Berry
Release Date: December 1, 2009
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Genre: Historical Thriller
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 4 out of 5
The Paris Vendetta is the sequel to The Charlemagne Pursuit. Cotton Malone, ex-member of the Magellan Billet and currently the owner of a bookstore in Copenhagen, is woken up one night by people breaking into his shop. While he tries to understand why someone is once again after him, he is told that Henrik Thorvaldsen, his friend, mentor, and employer, has discovered who killed his son and may be going after them by himself. It’s up to Cotton to piece together all the clues and determine what is really going on.
The Paris Vendetta is yet another book to feature Steve Berry’s signature hero, Cotton Malone, and he really doesn’t disappoint. Cotton is easy to like in this book, though he’s torn between duty and friendship. It reveals another layer to the complicated man that is Cotton Malone.
It’s not necessary to read previous books in this series in order to enjoy The Paris Vendetta. However, Cotton’s friend Henrik plays a large role in this novel, and it is helpful to know the background of their friendship, as well as that of Henrik’s son. Steve Berry is careful to explain everything in The Paris Vendetta, aware that readers may not know the backstory, but it’s still nice to know the history going into the book. If you read this book without the benefit of the previous novels, though, you will not be lost.
There is less history in The Paris Vendetta than in Berry’s previous historical thrillers, and that is a bit of a disappointment. Though what he presents about Napoleon really is fascinating, it leaves the reader wanting much, much more. The book still works very well, it’s just one of the best parts of Berry’s books is the history he incorporates, so when it’s less prominent, it can be a bit of a let down.
Berry took a lot of risks with The Paris Vendetta, and it seems that they will pay off. In a successful series, it’s tempting to stick to the formulas that bred success in the first place – the same amount of history, the same type of villain, the same characters. Berry has always varied the amount of history in each of his novels – sometimes it is incredibly prominent, sometimes it is just background information. In The Paris Vendetta, he also focuses more on the villain than usual. He makes sure to mix up the formula so the reader never quite knows what to expect, and he does it very well.
The biggest risk Berry took was changing the cast of characters in this series – we say hello to some new people in The Paris Vendetta, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they continue to show up in subsequent novels. We also have to let go of a beloved character. Berry proves that he isn’t afraid to change the base of his novels, which keeps them from becoming stagnant.
The Paris Vendetta is another great addition to Berry’s series of historical thrillers. Fans of the series will enjoy the changes Berry has made, and new readers will be sucked into a great world of history and adventure.