Dan Brown called one of Steve Berry's previous novels "my kind of thriller." With The Templar Legacy, Berry proves his mentor's point by unleashed a Da Vinci Code-like thriller that engulfs its hero smack in the middle of a massive Knights Templar conspiracy. He packs his novel with arcane Gnostic lore but keeps his protagonist and his readers breathless to the end.
There are times when Corrigan attempts the French accent of this book's arch-villain, Raymond de Roquefort, that he sounds like nothing so much as Peter Sellers's Inspector Clouseau with a bad head cold. Corrigan gamely tackles what so many other readers tiptoe around, imitating each of the voices in Berry's international array of shadowy operators. While the results are occasionally, unintentionally comic, Corrigan is to be commended: his multivoiced, one-man-band reading makes for a wildly enjoyable listen. Berry's novel follows in the tradition of The Da Vinci Code, mingling medieval Christian secrecy and contemporary intelligence-agency intrigue. Corrigan contains multitudes, and his able array of voices show a man who greatly enjoys the opportunity to have the stage of Berry's book all to himself. Having fun with his reading, Corrigan masterfully conveys the entertainment value of Berry's convoluted story. Simultaneous release with the Ballantine hardcover (Reviews, Dec. 19, 2005). (Feb.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Berry's third thriller (after The Amber Room and The Third Secret) is not to be missed. The first in a planned series of four books featuring Cotton Malone, a former U.S. Justice Department agent turned Copenhagen bookseller, this work takes on the legend of the Knights Templar, a rich and powerful order of knights supposedly stamped out in the early 14th century-but not before hiding a legendary cache of wealth. Cotton joins forces with former boss Stephanie Nelle to investigate the recent surprise appearance of a journal belonging to her deceased husband, a leading researcher of the treasure of the Knights Templar. Cotton and Stephanie quickly discover that the Knights Templar is far from extinct and will do just about anything to prevent them from discovering its secrets. Anagrams and complicated symbology abound, and comparisons to The Da Vinci Code are inevitable, but Berry distinguishes himself with a complex, well-written, and extremely readable story. Highly recommended for all public libraries.-Andrea Y. Griffith, Loma Linda Univ. Libs., CA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Good knights and bad knights chase each other around southwestern France in yet another tale of Sensational Untold Christian Revelation. Berry's The Third Secret (2005) dished up a papal suicide and some direct transmissions from the Virgin Mary at Fatima in 1917. Further papal nastiness figures in this take on the Knights Templar, a now-vanished but once vastly rich and dangerously powerful order that went from a gang of nine protectors of medieval pilgrims to one having near control of Western Europe. Their downfall came when craven Pope Clement V bowed to the will of his owner, France's King Henri IV, whose eye was on the great pile of Templar loot. With a nod from the pope to leaders of the Inquisition, the knights were disinherited, dismissed and, in some cases, flambeed. But did they really vanish? Their loot never made it into the royal coffers. Could they in this day and age be holed up in the shadow of the Pyrenees, disguised as simple 20th-century monks? And could their billions of euros in gold, jewelry and objets religieux be far away? Danish billionaire Henrik Thorvaldsen, among others, ponders this question. His late friend Lars Nelle got many readers to consider the possibilities when he published scholarly novels about the mysteries of Rennes-le-Chateau, a burg in the Languedoc with its share of secrets. Now Nelle's estranged widow Stephanie, a Department of Justice attorney, has received tantalizing information that brings her to Copenhagen, home of her dashing former employee, bookseller Cotton Malone. Before the two erstwhile associates have even said hello, a Knight Templar snatches Stephanie's backpack and slits his own throat. This is just the first of manyencounters between the good Americans and the evil Templar Raymond de Roquefort, all of which lead to stunning secrets about the central Christian mystery. A long, tortuous journey to an unsurprising, though thoughtful, end.
From the Publisher
Praise for Steve Berry
The Amber Room
“Sexy, illuminating . . . my kind of thriller.”
–Dan Brown, author of The Da Vinci Code
“Magnificently engrossing, with wonderful characters and a plot that speeds, twists, and turns. Pure intrigue, pure fun.”
–Clive Cussler, author of Sacred Stone
The Romanov Prophecy
“Perfect for thriller fans and history buffs alike. Fabulous plot twists.”
–David Morrell, author of The Protector
“Compelling . . . adventure-filled . . . a fast-moving, globe-hopping tale of long-lost treasure and shadowy bad guys.”
–San Francisco Chronicle
The Third Secret
“Controversial, shocking, explosive . . . rich in a wealth of Vatican insider knowledge and two thousand years of Virgin Mary visitations. The Third Secret will change our view of the relationship between religion and wisdom.”
–Katherine Neville, author of The Eight
Read an Excerpt
Thursday, June 22, The Present
Cotton Malone spotted the knife at the same time he saw Stephanie Nelle. He was sitting at a table outside the Café Nikolaj, comfortable in a white lattice chair. The sunny afternoon was pleasant and Højbro Plads, the popular Danish square that spanned out before him, bristled with people. The café was doing its usual brisk business—the mood feverish—and for the past half hour he’d been waiting for Stephanie.
She was a petite woman, in her sixties, though she never confirmed her age and the Justice Department personnel records that Malone once saw contained only a winking n/a in the space reserved for date of birth. Her dark hair was streaked with waves of silver, and her brown eyes offered both the compassionate look of a liberal and the fiery glint of a prosecutor. Two presidents had tried to make her attorney general, but she’d turned both offers down. One attorney general had lobbied hard to fire her—especially after she was enlisted by the FBI to investigate him—but the White House nixed the idea since, among other things, Stephanie Nelle was scrupulously honest.
In contrast, the man with the knife was short and stout, with narrow features and brush-cut hair. Something haunted loomed on his East European face—a forlornness that worried Malone more than the glistening blade—and he was dressed casually in denim pants and a blood-red jacket.
Malone rose from his seat but kept his eyes trained on Stephanie.
He thought of shouting a warning, but she was too far away and there was too much noise between them. His view of her was mo- mentarily blocked by one of the modernistic sculptures that dotted Højbro Plads—this one of an obscenely obese woman, lying naked on her belly, her obtrusive buttocks rounded like windswept mountains. When Stephanie appeared from the other side of the cast bronze, the man with the knife had moved closer and Malone watched as he severed a strap that draped her left shoulder, jerked a leather bag free, then shoved Stephanie to the flagstones.
A woman screamed and commotion erupted at the sight of a purse snatcher brandishing a knife.
Red Jacket rushed ahead, Stephanie’s bag in hand, and shouldered people out of his way. A few pushed back. The thief angled left, around another of the bronzed sculptures, and finally broke into a run. His route seemed aimed at Købmagergade, a pedestrian-only lane that twisted north, out of Højbro Plads, deeper into the city’s shopping district.
Malone bounded from the table, determined to cut off the assailant before he could turn the corner, but a cluster of bicycles blocked his way. He circled the cycles and sprinted forward, partially orbiting a fountain before tackling his prey.
They slammed into hard stone, Red Jacket taking most of the impact, and Malone immediately noticed that his opponent was muscular. Red Jacket, undaunted by the attack, rolled once, then brought a knee into Malone’s stomach.
The breath left him in a rush and his guts churned.
Red Jacket sprang to his feet and raced up Købmagergade.
Malone stood, but instantly crouched over and sucked a couple of shallow breaths.
Damn. He was out of practice.
He caught hold of himself and resumed pursuit, his quarry now possessing a fifty-foot head start. Malone had not seen the knife during their struggle, but as he plowed up the street between shops he saw that the man still grasped the leather bag. His chest burned, but he was closing the gap.
Red Jacket wrenched a flower cart away from a scraggly old man, one of many carts that lined both Højbro Plads and Købmagergade. Malone hated the vendors, who enjoyed blocking his bookshop, especially on Saturdays. Red Jacket flung the cart down the cobbles in Malone’s direction. He could not let the cart run free—too many people on the street, including children—so he darted right, grasped hold, and twisted it to a stop.
He glanced back and saw Stephanie round the corner onto Købmagergade, along with a policeman. They were half a football field away, and he had no time to wait.
Malone dashed ahead, wondering where the man was heading. Perhaps he’d left a vehicle, or a driver was waiting where Købmagergade emptied into another of Copenhagen’s busy squares, Hauser Plads. He hoped not. That place was a nightmare of congestion, beyond the web of people-only lanes that formed the shoppers’ mecca known as Strøget. His thighs ached from the unexpected workout, the muscles barely recalling his days with the Navy and the Justice Department. After a year of voluntary retirement, his exercise regimen would not impress his former employer.
Ahead loomed the Round Tower, nestled firmly against the Trinity Church like a thermos bound to a lunch pail. The burly cylindrical structure rose nine stories. Denmark’s Christian IV had erected it in 1642, and the symbol of his reign—a gilded 4 embraced by a c— glistened on its somber brick edifice. Five streets intersected where the Round Tower stood, and Red Jacket could choose any one of them for his escape.
Police cars appeared.
One screeched to a stop on the south side of the Round Tower. Another came from farther down Købmagergade, blocking any escape to the north. Red Jacket was now contained in the plaza that encircled the Round Tower. His quarry hesitated, seeming to appraise the situation, then scampered right and disappeared inside the Round Tower.
What was the fool doing? There was no way out besides the ground-floor portal. But maybe Red Jacket didn’t know that.
Malone ran to the entrance. He knew the man in the ticket booth. The Norwegian spent many hours in Malone’s bookshop, English literature his passion.
“Arne, where did that man go?” he asked in Danish, catching his wind.
“Ran right by without paying.”
“Anybody up there?”
“An older couple went up a little while ago.”
No elevator or stairs led to the top. Instead, a spiral causeway wound a path straight to the summit, originally installed so that bulky seventeenth-century astronomical instruments could be wheeled up. The story local tour guides liked to tell was of how Russia’s Peter the Great once rode up on horseback while his empress followed in a carriage.
Malone could hear footfalls echoing from the flooring above. He shook his head at what he knew awaited him. “Tell the police we’re up there.”
He started to run.
Halfway up the spiraling incline he passed a door leading into the Large Hall. The glassed entrance was locked, the lights off. Ornamented double windows lined the tower’s outer walls, but each was iron-barred. He listened again and could still hear running from above.
He continued ahead, his breathing growing thick and hampered. He slowed his pace when he passed a medieval planet plotter affixed high on the wall. He knew the exit onto the roof platform was just a few feet away, around the ramp’s final bend.
He heard no more footsteps.
He crept forward and stepped through the archway. An octago- nal observatory—not from Christian IV’s time, but a more recent incarnation—rose in the center, with a wide terrace encircling.
To his left a decorative iron fence surrounded the observatory, its only entrance chained shut. On his right, intricate wrought-iron latticework lined the tower’s outer edge. Beyond the low railing loomed the city’s red-tiled rooftops and green spires.
He rounded the platform and found an elderly man lying prone. Behind the body, Red Jacket stood with a knife to an older woman’s throat, his arm encasing her chest. She seemed to want to scream, but fear quelled her voice.
“Keep still,” Malone said to her in Danish.
He studied Red Jacket. The haunted look was still there in the dark, almost mournful eyes. Beads of sweat glistened in the bright sun. Everything signaled that Malone should not step any closer. Footfalls from below signaled that the police would arrive in a few moments.
“How about you cool down?” he asked, trying English.
He could see the man understood him, but the knife stayed in place. Red Jacket’s gaze kept darting away, off to the sky then back. He seemed unsure of himself and that concerned Malone even more. Desperate people always did desperate things.
“Put the knife down. The police are coming. There’s no way out.”
Red Jacket looked to the sky again, then refocused on Malone. Indecision stared back at him. What was this? A purse snatcher who flees to the top of a hundred-foot tower with nowhere to go?
Footfalls from below grew louder.
“The police are here.”
Red Jacket backed closer to the iron railing but kept his grip tight on the elderly woman. Malone sensed the steeliness of an ultimatum forcing some choice, so he made clear again, “There’s no way out.”
Red Jacket tightened his grip on the woman’s chest, then he staggered back, now firmly against the waist-high outer railing, nothing beyond him and his hostage but air.
The eyes lost their panic and a sudden calm swept over the man. He shoved the old woman forward and Malone caught her before she lost her balance. Red Jacket made the sign of the cross and, with Stephanie’s bag in hand, pivoted out over the railing, screamed one word—“beauseant”—then slashed the knife across his throat as his body plunged to the street.
The woman howled as the police emerged from the portal.
Malone let her go and rushed to the rail.
Red Jacket lay sprawled on the cobbles one hundred feet below.
He turned and looked back to the sky, past the flagpole atop the observatory, the Danish Dannebrog—a white cross upon a red banner—limp in the still air.
What had the man been looking at? And why did he jump?
He gazed back down and saw Stephanie elbowing her way through the growing crowd. Her leather bag lay a few feet from the dead man and he watched as she yanked it from the cobbles, then dissolved back into the spectators. He followed her with his gaze as she plowed through the people and scuttled away, down one of the streets that led from the Round Tower, deeper into the busy Strøget, never looking back.
He shook his head at her hasty retreat and muttered, “What the hell?”
From the Hardcover edition.