The Venetian Betrayal (Cotton Malone Series #3)

The Venetian Betrayal (Cotton Malone Series #3)

by Steve Berry

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Overview

“[Steve Berry] has a genuine feel for the factual gaps that give history its tantalizing air of the unknown.”—The New York Times Book Review

After narrowly escaping incineration in a devastating fire that consumes a Danish museum, Cotton Malone—former Justice Department agent turned rare-book dealer—learns from his friend, the beguiling adventurer Cassiopeia Vitt, that the blaze was neither an accident nor an isolated incident. As part of a campaign of arson intended to mask a far more diabolical design, buildings across Europe are being devoured by infernos of unnatural strength. Born from the ashes is a new Eastern European nation whose ruthless leader will soon draw Cotton into an intense geopolitical chess game against a shadowy cabal of power brokers. The prize lies buried with the mummified remains of Alexander the Great—in a tomb lost to the ages for  more than two thousand years. Trekking from Denmark 
to Venice to Central Asia, Cotton and Cassiopeia are determined to solve an ancient puzzle whose solution 
could destroy or save millions of people—depending on who finds the lost tomb first.

“There’s nothing tastier than a globe-spanning mystery. . . . Berry’s books excel at bringing out fascinating tidbits of history.”—Richmond Times-Dispatch

BONUS: This edition contains an excerpt from Steve Berry’s The Columbus Affair and a Cotton Malone dossier.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780345504456
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 12/11/2007
Series: Cotton Malone Series , #3
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 496
Sales rank: 4,885
File size: 4 MB

About the Author

Steve Berry is the New York Times and #1 internationally bestselling author of The Lincoln Myth, The King’s Deception, The Columbus Affair, The Jefferson Key, The Emperor’s Tomb, The Paris Vendetta, The Charlemagne Pursuit, The Venetian Betrayal, The Alexandria Link, The Templar Legacy, The Third Secret, The Romanov Prophecy, and The Amber Room. His books have been translated into 40 languages with more than 18,000,000 copies in 51 countries.

Read an Excerpt

Copenhagen, Denmark
Saturday, April 18 , The Present
11:55 p.m.

The smell roused Cotton Malone to consciousness. Sharp, acrid, with a hint of sulfur. And something else. Sweet and sickening.

Like death.

He opened his eyes.

He lay prone on the floor, arms extended, palms to the hardwood, which he immediately noticed was sticky.

What happened?

He’d attended the April gathering of the Danish Antiquarian Booksellers Society a few blocks west of his bookshop, near the gaiety of Tivoli. He liked the monthly meetings and this one had been no exception. A few drinks, some friends, and lots of book chatter. Tomorrow morning he’d agreed to meet Cassiopeia Vitt. Her call yesterday to arrange the meeting had surprised him. He’d not heard from her since Christmas, when she’d spent a few days in Copenhagen. He’d been cruising back home on his bicycle, enjoying the comfortable spring night, when he’d decided to check out the unusual meeting location she’d chosen, the Museum of Greco-Roman Culture–a preparatory habit from his former profession. Cassiopeia rarely did anything on impulse, so a little advance preparation wasn’t a bad idea.

He’d found the address, which faced the Frederiksholms canal, and noticed a half-open door to the pitch-dark building–a door that should normally be closed and alarmed. He’d parked his bike. The least he could do was close the door and phone the police when he returned home.

But the last thing he remembered was grasping the doorknob.

He was now inside the museum.

In the ambient light that filtered in through two plate-glass windows, he saw a space decorated in typical Danish style–a sleek mixture of steel, wood, glass, and aluminum. The right side of his head throbbed and he caressed a tender knot.

He shook the fog from his brain and stood.

He’d visited this museum once and had been unimpressed with its collection of Greek and Roman artifacts. Just one of a hundred or more private collections throughout Copenhagen, their subject matter as varied as the city’s population.

He steadied himself against a glass display case. His fingertips again came away sticky and smelly, with the same nauseating odor.

He noticed that his shirt and trousers were damp, as was his hair, face, and arms. Whatever covered the museum’s interior coated him, too.

He stumbled toward the front entrance and tried the door. Locked. Double dead bolt. A key would be needed to open it from the inside.

He stared back into the interior. The ceiling soared thirty feet. A wood-and-chrome staircase led up to a second floor that dissolved into more darkness, the ground floor extending out beneath.

He found a light switch. Nothing. He lumbered over to a desk phone. No dial tone.

A noise disturbed the silence. Clicks and whines, like gears working. Coming from the second floor.
His training as a Justice Department agent cautioned him to keep quiet, but also urged him to investigate.

So he silently climbed the stairs.

The chrome banister was damp, as were each of the laminated risers. Fifteen steps up, more glass-and-chrome display cases dotted the hardwood floor. Marble reliefs and partial bronzes on pedestals loomed like ghosts. Movement caught his eye twenty feet away. An object rolling across the floor. Maybe two feet wide with rounded sides, pale in color, tight to the ground, like one of those robotic lawn mowers he’d once seen advertised. When a display case or statue was encountered, the thing stopped, retreated, then darted in a different direction. A nozzle extended from its top and every few seconds a burst of aerosol spewed out.

He stepped close.

All movement stopped. As if it sensed his presence. The nozzle swung to face him. A cloud of mist soaked his pants.

What was this?

The machine seemed to lose interest and scooted deeper into the darkness, more odorous mist expelling along the way. He stared down over the railing to the ground floor and spotted another of the contraptions parked beside a display case.

Nothing about this seemed good.

He needed to leave. The stench was beginning to turn his stomach.

The machine ceased its roaming and he heard a new sound.

Two years ago, before his divorce, his retirement from the government, and his abrupt move to Copenhagen, when he’d lived in Atlanta, he’d spent a few hundred dollars on a stainless-steel grill. The unit came with a red button that, when pumped, sparked a gas flame. He recalled the sound the igniter made with each pump of the button.

The same clicking he heard right now.

Sparks flashed.

The floor burst to life, first sun yellow, then burnt orange, finally settling on pale blue as flames radiated outward, consuming the hardwood. Flames simultaneously roared up the walls. The temperature rose swiftly and he raised an arm to shield his face. The ceiling joined the conflagration, and in less than fifteen seconds the second floor was totally ablaze.

Overhead sprinklers sprang to life.

He partially retreated down the staircase and waited for the fire to be doused.

But he noticed something.

The water simply aggravated the flames.

The machine that started the disaster suddenly disintegrated in a muted flash, flames rolling out in all directions, like waves searching for shore.

A fireball drifted to the ceiling and seemed to be welcomed by the spraying water. Steam thickened the air, not with smoke but with a chemical that made his head spin.

He leaped down the stairs two at a time. Another swoosh racked the second floor. Followed by two more. Glass shattered. Something crashed.

He darted to the front of the building.

The other gizmo that had sat dormant sprang to life and started skirting the ground-floor display cases.
More aerosol spewed into the scorching air.

He needed to get out. But the locked front door opened to the inside. Metal frame, thick wood. No way to kick it open. He watched as fire eased down the staircase, consuming each riser, like the devil descending to greet him. Even the chrome was being devoured with a vengeance.

His breaths became labored, thanks to the chemical fog and the rapidly vanishing oxygen. Surely someone would call the fire department, but they’d be no help to him. If a spark touched his soaked clothes . . .

The blaze found the bottom of the staircase.

Ten feet away.

Customer Reviews

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The Venetian Betrayal (Cotton Malone Series #3) 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 202 reviews.
GtzLstNRding More than 1 year ago
Lots of twists and turns, great history of Alexandra the Great, a corrorupt goverening facility, and lots of action. Again, this was one I listened to and think you would get more out of reading it. There were times I got a little lost in the history and confused on people, but over not a bad story.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It is so great to see an author that really cares about the reader and about the story. There are too many authors who are writing and whipping out books just for the profit. This is a great book, a great addition to the previous, yet a stand alone. Characters with depth, and a story line that weaves fact and fiction. Well done.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I've read all of his books so far. Really enjoyed every single one of them. Anyone who likes a little bit of history mixed into the story lines will love these.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
MrsLee on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I listened to the audio version of this. Probably if I had read it for myself I would have given it three stars. The narrator's tone and intensity put me off, in addition to his accents. Possibly it is my ear, but every character who had an accent sounded like a smarmy version of Dracula to me.As for the story, the action and descriptions were fun, the premise of finding a cure for aids and all the political and corporate power struggles involved rang true. The weird search for Alexandar's tomb I could swallow, but I think a real archaeologist would have a fit about what the characters (several of them trained and smart enough to know better) did when the tomb was found. As to the characters themselves, by the end of the story I was hoping for death on all fronts. There was not one character I cared about in this story, they all were intensely annoying.
PghDragonMan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Steve Berry improved his skills over the previous offering with The Venetian Betrayal. Once again, Berry blend historical facts with academic conjecture and his own personal flights of fancy to lead Cotton Malone on another quest for a piece of history while saving the world from destruction. Thankfully, Steve Berry¿s style keeps this from becoming just another formulaic thriller series. His descriptions are quite vivid, his main characters are interesting and the way he interjects his own version of history keeps you wondering if you didn¿t pay close enough attention in school.Some of the plot flaws, however, were quite glaring. In particular, there were two scenes where people were trapped in room with doom just moments away. In one of those scenes, the escape was obvious if you were paying the least attention to the details. The other has a different ending, a happy one for the good guys, through another plot twist that, while not as obvious, was no great surprise when it occurred.I¿d have to say this book is a worthwhile addition to the escapist¿s library. A very good adventure story with just the right addition of history and political conjecture to elevate it from an average read. Hardly deep subject matter, yet it does make you wonder if some great things have been lost in the shuffle of history.
Talbin on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Venetian Betrayal is another installment of Steve Berry's Cotton Malone series. Malone, a former American Justice Department agent turned Copenhagener (?) bookseller, receives a call from former cohort Cassiopeia Vitt. After surviving a devastating blaze in a Danish museum, Malone joins Vitt in her quest to discover what happened to her friend, Ely Lund, and why several ancient medallions are being stolen from museums around the world. In their quest, they encounter Irina Zovastina, the Supreme Minister of the (fictional) Central Asian Federation. Zovastina rules with an iron hand, has a deep obsession with all things related to Alexander the Great, and is not afraid to eliminate an enemy using any means possible - including modern biological agents or the ancient Greek fire.The Venetian Betrayal is a fast, enjoyable read. In this book, Berry brings together several story lines and characters, doing it better than he has in his previous books. In Berry's past novels, the stories seemed a bit chopped up, or overly focused on either the ancient history or the modern spy aspects. Several of the characters are more fleshed out, too, including Cassiopeia Vitt and Stephanie Nelle. Berry has always been a pretty good writer, so his prose doesn't get in the way of enjoying the sometimes far-fetched - but always entertaining - story. If you're in the mood for a bit of escapism laced with international politics and speculative history, The Venetian Betrayal is for you.
Thasc on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A fascinating insight into the life and times of Alexander The Great. The political scenes in the story were a bit heavy going at times but other then that this book is a great read.
ddelmoni on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Steve Berry is my "go-to" mass market author for historical fiction. I love his quick round the world, lots of history, mystery/thriller stories. Cotton Malone et al.. are getting more interesting (though I find myself skipping over the 'guns and guts' parts more and more). If you like fast paced fiction this book will not disappoint. Though I enjoyed the Venetian Betrayal I was disappointed. A historical thriller based on Alexander the Great could have been far superior to this. I would really like Berry's books to slow down, drop some of the "guts and gore" and add more complexity and depth to the story. I've read all of his books and have to say that the a publisher who only cares about the "bestselling" name on the next cover, and the dollars that go with it, is becoming increasingly apparent!
imjustmea on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Interesting read. Made me want to learn more about Alexander the Great. I enjoyed the premise of the book but the jumping back and forth between the characters made it a bit difficult to follow. Still an enjoyable read as I love books that mix in a bit of history and archeology.
cyderry on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is the third installment of the Cotton Malone mystery series and it continues to utilize the historical mysteries of the past to entertain in the here and now. In this story Cotton is drafted out of his retirement by friends to assist them in preventing the Supreme Minister of the Central Asian Federation from utilizing biological warfare to take over the world.Okay, I know that that sounds pretty melodramatic, but basically that's the plot. It doesn't seem that it would be plausible but Steve Berry somehow manages to take these unusual situations and make you suspend your belief, and go with the characters through their trials and emerge from the dangers triumphant. I really like this series and look forward to the future installments.
Livana on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I've read Berry's series out of order, but, unfortunately, there is not enough character development that it was a problem.The Venetian Betrayal is in line with Berry's Malone's series, informative, gripping and entertaining . I wrote this before, but the author's note at the end of the book are really great.
cuicocha on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The adventures of Cotton Malone continue with Berry's unique style of short chapters/ sections creating a "real time" atmosphere with varying characters and locations. Malone is drawn into a quest for the tomb of Alexander the Great and comes up against a dictator with the same aims. The protagonist deals with Greek Fire, mechanical dispensers and incendiary devices, cures for HIV/AIDS and a deeper relationship with Cassiopeia Vitt. Berry offers his typical non-stop action and introduces a new character, Viktor, that could easily work into future Berry novels. All-in-all, not Berry's best but still a worthy addition to the "thriller" genre.
EssFair on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Cotton Malone is in the thick of another historical mystery this one involving Greek Fire, Alexander the Great¿s tomb and a mysterious ¿draught¿ known to Alexander that can cure anything including AIDS. As usual a fast-paced thriller with a high body count set in various locations in Europe. The US president and international politics are involved. Cotton comes out on top but his success seems based more to his good luck rather than his ability to outthink his opponents. His opponent¿a female central Asian dictator¿is particularly memorable.
blueslibrarian on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The latest in Berry's line of Cotton Malone historical thrillers finds the ex-government agent and bookseller embroiled in yet another adventure. A despot that has brought together several previously fragmented Central Asian countries is on a murderous quest to find the grave of Alexander the Great, and the draught of eternal life that his physician supposedly possessed. The book whips through several locations in Europe and Asia as Malone and his associates attempt to stop the tyrant and her evil plan. While a suspension of belief is necessary, this potboiler should appeal to those who like fast paced thrillers. Berry's series draws upon a commendable amount of research (explained in the afterword of the novel) in history and medicine, and that buoys some of the novels more dubious aspects.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Once again, Steve Berry had given us an interesting plot and wonderfully evil new villains. It was a little longwinded but well worth the time. Stephanie Clanahan
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Steve Berry writes excellent descriptions so well you could be there. Fast moving well researched and the mix of history is outstanding. Well worth the read. Ready for the next book.
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Mikimbin More than 1 year ago
This year I discovered Steve Berry's books and his Cotton Malone series. I have already read 4 of his books and bought 2 more. These are well written with lots of historical and geographical details which makes them very interesting. Highly recommend them.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago