Bonaparte treasure at center of ‘Paris Vendetta’ mystery

  Readers can never accuse Steve Berry of not doing his homework in his series of best-selling international suspense novels.
  The Georgia author takes a lot of trips abroad and does extensive research for his stories that usually involve some sort of conspiracy
and a secret treasure. I first encountered Berry with “The Templar Legacy,” one of many books that capitalized on Dan Brown’s “The
Da Vinci Code” phenomenon a few years ago. It was a solid thriller, with lots of real history. I felt like I had just crammed for a college-level exam on the Middle Ages.
  “The Paris Vendetta” is no different. Berry’s latest story mixes geopolitical intrigue, conspiratorial elements and historical texts into a big bowl of action-packed fun. And there’s a stunning conclusion. The story starts slow, but you might find your head spinning by the time it ends.
  In “The Paris Vendetta,” Berry tackles the mysteries surrounding the life of Napoleon Bonaparte. The legendary French general and emperor died in exile in 1821 on St. Helena, an island fortress off the West African coast. Napoleon was famous for collecting treasures in lands that he conquered, some of which disappeared. His British captors hoped Napoleon would reveal the location of the booty
before he died. He never did, and in the following decades, rumors sprouted about where the treasure might be.
  Enter Lord Graham Ashby. The wealthy Brit has been hunting for the treasure for years, recently around Corsica, the French  Mediterranean island where Napoleon was born. Ashby, who has ties to the criminal underworld, is a member of the Paris Club, a cabal of multimillionaires bent on manipulating the global economy. The club is lead by Eliza Larocque, a sexy businesswoman whose family has deep Western European roots. She has her own vengeance-filled agenda and also seeks Napoleon’s cache.
  Cotton Malone, a hero of past Berry novels, gets thrust into the case. He’s a former Justice Department operative who owns and operates a bookstore in Copenhagen, Denmark. After a break-in at the store, he teams up with new friend Sam Collins, a former Secret Service agent, and old friend Henrik Thorvaldsen, a tough Danish tycoon, to expose the Paris Club and uncover Napoleon’s loot.
  But it’s far from being that simple. Far from it. Thorvaldsen knows Ashby was involved in the death of his son years ago, and seeks
revenge. He wants to join the Paris Club and get even. Ashby is also involved with Peter Lyon, a South African terrorist who wants the
treasure and won’t hesitate to kill to get it. There’s also a terrorist plot hatched by the Paris Club to do some damage to Paris landmarks on Christmas Day.
  Malone is eventually joined by Stephanie Nelle, his ex-wife and Justice Department big shot, French police and others in trying to stop the misdeeds of the club and find and protect Napoleon’s treasure — if there is one.
  “The Paris Vendetta” does have some flaws. It’s too heavy on the history (lots of excerpts from old documents), and a subplot involving global financial markets distracts from the main story. Plus there’s a few too many characters — a reader has to pay really close attention in the last 100 pages to see who’s doing what.
  Nonetheless, “The Paris Vendetta” is one of the most raucous suspense stories this year.

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