Book Review - Jackie K Cooper
THE 14th COLONY by Steve Berry
For many years now I have been enjoying the writings of Steve Berry. I became a fan with his first book, THE TEMPLAR LEGACY, and my admiration has continued through to his latest novel THE 14th COLONY. Berry's trademark is taking an incident in past history and letting it have an impact on a present day situation. Usually this is an occurrence which leads to potentially dire circumstances, and in most instances it is a race against the clock.
This is certainly the circumstance in THE 14th COLONY. Cotton Malone, Berry's go to hero, has taken an assignment from Stephanie Nelle, his boss at the Magellan Billet. The Billet is a secret agency in the government that is on the verge of being dismantled by a new President-elect. The current President of the United States, Danny Daniels, is keeping it together for as long as possible.
There is information that some members of the old USSR government want revenge for the dismantling of the USSR. Malone is on the trail of one of the key players in this plot. He has been joined by fellow agent Cassiopeia Vitt, who is his co-worker and lover. Also involved in the case are Nelle and Daniels' nephew Luke. There is enough trouble brewing that they all have their hands full.
Berry is a genius at creating tense situations. He puts each of these people in harm's way over and over again. The plots Berry creates have to have danger involved to be believable. However he has now reached the point where he needs to kill someone. All of these hazards and conflicts must exact a price at one time or another.
Berry also needs to lighten up on the history lessons. He is the master of research and historical knowledge about the circumstances in his stories. He offers the readers more information than they can possibly absorb. It is an added bonus until it becomes cumbersome to the plot. When Cotton or another of the key characters is on the verge of being wounded, maimed or worse, you don't want a detailed history lesson on the line of succession for the Presidency to be laid out in page after page.
However all of the historical material might be worth reading in its entirety after you have flown through the story as quickly as possible. I found myself skimming the history material in order to be able to move on with the tensions in the plot. If Berry were not such a skilled storyteller these historical data interruptions wouldn't matter so much.
I would have liked to have had more information about the individual characters lives than the minutia concerning the historical backdrop. THE 14th COLONY is at its best when it is giving us glimpses into the lives of Cotton, Cassiopeia, Stephanie, Danny and Luke, and I wanted more, more, more.
For those who like a gripping plot this is a book you will savor. Just realize you have to get through a lot of historical garnishes before you get to the meat of the story.
THE 14th COLONY is published by Minotaur Books. It contains 464 pages and sells for $27.99.
Jackie K Cooper