Once again Steve Berry has struck gold with Cotton Malone.
There are many fine authors writing great thrillers set in modern times against a historical background or storyline. Some have faster-paced books, others have more detailed plots while some choose to educate the reader more than entertain them. My opinion - for what its worth - is that Berry ticks more boxes more frequently than any of his contemparies and is the best author in the genre bar none!
Malone is one of those reluctant heroes who never once hesitates to climb back into the saddle for one more adventure. A modern day hero trying to live a quiet life, he quickly transforms back into the role of secret agent. Vitt is a delight as a foil, accomplice and love interest. Tang, Pau Wen and Ni Yong are the three people battling for control over China and the role of the next Chinese Premier. Each is a worthy addition and all have different qualities which enhance the reader’s experience. Tang is ruthless and brutal, Pau Wen is calculating and manipulative while Ni Yong is honest yet naïve. Other characters from Malone’s past reappear with great influence but I’ll not spoil any of the twists by naming them.
The plot is a work of art and see-saws its way from adventure to explanation, giving frantic action and then a breather to gather your thoughts whilst more of the plot is laid out - before again hurtling you along its twisted path. There are surprises, reveals, whodunits and more to enjoy as the author flexes his considerable literary skill. No finer example of this is the fact that I now know ten times more about Chinese history than I did before I started the book, and I’m here raving about the book! If Steve Berry had been my history teacher I would have never missed a lesson.
The prose is tighter than the rope bridge which features in the prologue and is the mistress to Steve Berry’s master. In conclusion, The Emperor’s Tomb is a masterpiece of intelligent, thriller writing which along the ways educates, enlightens the reader and most of all entertains from start to finish.