The Daily Bongo
by Steve Berry
Last week, I stopped at the local library and saw Paris Vendetta by Steve Berry on the new books shelf. I had heard of Berry's book, with Cotton Malone as the protagonist. The books fall in the thriller/action genre, similar to Dan Brown's books. Even though the book is the last in the series, I decided to give it a try. After finishing the book, I have a better idea of what the book was about. Here's the plot: there's a group called the Paris Club that makes money by shifts in the market caused by terrorism. One of their members is Lord Ashby, who has a history of finding lost treasures. Lord Ashby is trying to find Napoleon's hidden treasures, and the woman in charge of the Paris Club, Eliza Larocque, is also after the treasure. Meanwhile we have Henrik Thorvaldsen, friend of Cotton Malone, who is hunting down Ashby because Ashby killed Thorvaldsen's son while killing a Mexican DA woman who was dating Thorvaldsen's son. Another character, Sam Collins, who is a disgraced Secret Service guy who thinks there is a group manipulating the world's economy, goes to Thorvaldsen for help. Finally, there's Peter Lyon, notorious terrorist, and Stephanie Nelle, boss of the Magellan Billet, some sort of US anti-terrorist group, I think.
What you are probably already thinking just from reading that brief description is that it's very disjointed and confusing. Well, imagine what it was like to read the book. Not only are there all these disparate stories that don't seem to have any connection, there are disjointed remembrances from the characters that interrupt the flow of the story. You know that you are reading a remembrance because the font shifts to italics. It's not that the remembrance really adds to the story. It just adds to the confusion. I had to read at least half of the book before I started to figure out how to weave the threads into a cohesive story.
The other problem that I had with the book was the writing style. I am not one of those who find fault with someone just because they don't write literature. If you look at the other things that I've read, you will see that it's obvious that I read books that are often classified as threats to literature. I didn't mind the short paragraphs and chapters, ala Dan Brown. What I did mind were the stylistic errors that made it difficult to understand what was happening, and who the "he" was who was speaking. Sometimes I would have to go back a few paragraphs, thank goodness they were short, and read over them a few times to realize that the "he" in one paragraph referred to Sam while the next "he" must be Cotton.
You are probably wondering why I finished reading the book. I must admit that I asked myself that question several times. At first, I kept on reading so I could figure out what was going on. I couldn't understand how the different plot lines could ever merge, and I wanted to see if that merge would help to see the light. Once I had invested the time, I figured that I might as well finish the book. Also, as I said, by that point, I was almost done with the book.
Would I recommend the book? I would have reservations. Perhaps it is because of my disappointment. I was expecting something much better than I read. Yes, the book did have lots of action, especially in the final third of the book. I have to admit that I am going to get the first book in the series to see if it is better. Perhaps familiarity with the characters might have made the situation easier.
February 26, 2010