Tuesday, November 23, 2010
If you read this blog you know I am addicted to mystery/thrillers, so I was happy to pick up a new author in Steve Berry. The Emperor’s Tomb is Berry’s fifth novel to feature Cotton Malone as the protagonist. There is some back story to the characters that I could not quite figure out from reading this novel, but it really didn’t impede following the story. The setting is current day China and the action centers on the recovery of a lamp from the third century B.C. In addition to the mystery part of the story there is a strong dose of Chinese philosophy and politics mixed in. The action rockets back and forth between China and Europe as government (US, Russian and Chinese) spies fight it out for control of this lamp and the secrets it holds that will solve world energy problems. Planes crash, agents are killed with alarming regularity, chapters end with gunfire and then the action jarringly moves to another perspective. The writing is choppy with short chapters, one sentence paragraphs, and six word sentences. The characters are stilted and one dimensional.
Reading mystery/thrillers requires some suspension of belief to accept the tenets of a good yarn, but I felt that this story was just implausible in so many ways. Berry does provide notes on the research he has done to support the plot premise but I didn’t buy it. I read an advanced reader copy, so there is the possibility that some of the more outrageous story elements will fall out with editing but I think not nearly enough to keep this author on my radar screen.
I read an advanced reader copy of this book provided by the publisher.