Read the full review at Tales Between the Pages
I have a love/hate relationship with Steve Berry. As you can tell from my previous reviews of Berry’s work, sometimes I love his stories and sometimes I don’t. In fact, I was so ambivalent about The Alexandria Link that I wasn’t sure I’d pick up the next book in the Cotton Malone series. But here’s the thing about me: I always finish a series. So when I found ‘The Venetian Betrayal’ at the library, I knew I had to get it. What’s the verdict? It’s his best book to date. I wasn’t hooked right away but after about 25%, I found myself needing to know what happened (in an I’m going to skip folding laundry because I need to read kind of way).
But, the plot itself was definitely above average. With The Templar Legacy, I thought that Berry was just a passenger on the Dan Brown train. With ‘The Venetian Betrayal,’ Berry just established himself as a suspense thriller author in his own right. I think what sets this novel apart from the others is that he mixes historical myth/legend with real problems and possible political futures. The Central Asian Federation was conceived brilliantly and feels like a real political possibility for the western Asian nations like Kazakhstan. Inserting a possible cure for AIDS within the Alexander the Great historical legend gave the plot a boost from being a novel about just another conspiracy theory to a novel that uses legends to talk about more significant problems plaguing the world. It’s easier for me to conceive a plot about a magical draught that cures the world’s incurable disease in an attempt to talk about world politics than it is for me to conceive that Jesus had children ala Dan Brown.