Sunday, August 5, 2012

And Here Is Another Review

As I mentioned 2 blogs ago, I want to catch up on my book reviews before I start the author interview series.  So I was going to do 3 today.  But as I worked on The Columbus Affair by Steve Berry, I simply couldn't do it justice if I combined it with 1 or 2 others.  Here, then, is a review of just The Columbus Affair.

The Columbus Affair is Berry's 11th book.  His first 3 were stand-alones, and they were good - The Amber Room, The Romanov Prophecy (it's in FFTNFR, Volume IV), and The Third Secret.  His next 7 books centered on Cotton Malone, an ex-Justice Department operative who deals in rare books in, of all places, Denmark.  Now Berry's 11th book takes a break from Cotton Malone.  I like the Malone series, but I'm glad to have a stand-alone to sink my teeth into.  And sink my teeth into it I did.

The Columbus Affair asks the question:  Why did Columbus hurry to leave before midnight on his journey to the New World?  The author posits the theory that he was Jewish and had to leave before the start of the day when all Jews would be expelled from Spain.  Haven't heard that one before!  It is definitely a unique approach to all things Columbus.

The story, as with all Berry books, takes place in the present.  Tom Sagan is a long-time, award-winning investigative reporter.  He is at the top of his field - until he files a report about a war-torn nation that proves to be very inaccurate.  He is certain that someone has deliberately fed him wrong information in order ruin his career.  And, in fact, his career does come crashing down.  On top of that, he is divorced and is estranged from his only child, a daughter.  8 years after his ill-fated report, he has decided to kill himself.  He is ready to do that, with a gun to his head, when somebody appears at his window and holds up a picture of his daughter bound and gagged.  This leads Sagan to places around the world including Jamaica, where Columbus allegedly settled.

There are a number of very interesting characters including a Jewish zealot, Zachariah Simon, hoping to instigate an Arab-Israeli war and bring about the building of a Third Temple in Jerusalem, a Jamaican don, Bene, whose legitimate business is a world-class coffee company, and a mysterious stranger, Brian, who is trying to convince Tom's daughter, Alle, that Simon is not who he says he is.  Add in the fact that Tom's deceased Jewish grandfather appeared to have information that could lead to treasure hidden by Columbus 500 years earlier, and you have a very intricately plotted story.

Although Steve Berry doesn't need me to tout his books, I think this is his best one yet.  I really enjoyed the mystery surrounding the hidden treasure and all of the flashbacks to Columbus and his right-hand man, Luis de Torres, who was the first Jewish inhabitant of the New World.  Berry uses his research to take us to the time Columbus arrived in the Caribbean along with the succeeding years.  He writes mostly in the present but intersperses it with flashbacks to Columbus and de Torres.  This is fascinating stuff.  Read it.  You'll like it.


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