Friday, January 11, 2013

The Alexandria Link (Cotton Malone, #2) by Steve Berry

RATING 1.5/5

So I decided on a whim I wanted to read a fictional book about the Library of Alexandria, and this was the only one I could find at my library. I'd read The Templar Legacy and given it 3 stars, so I figured I'd give The Alexandria Link a try. Turns out there is very little of the Library in this book, it is more about the search for the location where its contents may have been moved. It's a political adventure/thriller. I gave it a half star because Berry has good grammar and obviously did some research. Too bad he didn't research how to write better characters.

An international cast, and all of them have the same voice, with two exceptions: the good-old-boy president who speaks like a redneck, and Cotton Malone's teenage son, whose dialogue and character were more like a very placid, obedient six-year-old. What adolescent gets kidnapped and witnesses murders and basically just shrugs his shoulders, sits around and says, "let me know when things get resolved"? He must take after his emotionless dad, who thinks his son won't care when he finds out Cotton isn't his biological father.

Cotton's stereo-typically annoying ex-wife gets dragged along through the whole adventure, which makes this the longest escort mission imaginable. Of course she steps into the line of fire several times when she's asked to stay put. Then there's the obligatory fights about their past. Supreme annoyance that Pam is, I actually began to sympathize with her, because there is nothing that drives a person crazier than being in a relationship where your partner is so stoical and emotionally unfaze-able that he treats you with complete indifference. At one point, Pam kicks Malone in the nuts, and after he catches his breath and picks himself off the ground, he mentally shrugs and says "Oh well, I deserved it."

The rest of the characters in this book are bland, stereotypical and/or ridiculous. Stephanie, a 61 year old experienced government intelligence agent, continuously makes irrational, impulsive decisions unbefitting her position. In the end, the President of the United States points out all of her grievous mistakes and then immediately offers Stephanie her job back. At one point, a hired professional kidnapper tells Cotton to take the magazine out of his gun and throw it away, conveniently leaving Cotton with a gun in his hand (and a bullet in the chamber) with which to kill him.

There are just too many nonsensical events in this book, including the plot itself, which is so unnecessarily complicated, it passes into convolution. Maybe some readers get impressed by a plot that leaves them confused ("it must be good, since I didn't understand it!"), but sometimes I think writers use constant plot twists in order to cover up what is lacking - in this case, everything else. In essence, most of the plot that occurs in the United States between government agents is completely superfluous.

My ebook copy had some formatting issues, which made dialogue especially difficult to follow, because there were long stretches of back-and-forth between 2-3 characters with almost no descriptions about who was speaking each line.

And then there was this sentence:

"They stepped inside and stared at the opulence."

In summary, this book was a total bust.

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