The Charlemagne Pursuit (Cotton Malone Series #4)

The Charlemagne Pursuit (Cotton Malone Series #4)

by Steve Berry

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The Charlemagne Pursuit (Cotton Malone Series #4) by Steve Berry

NEW YORK TIMES BESETSELLER “Those who relish suspense in the Da Vinci Code vein will snap this one up, the best yet in the series.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

As a child, former Justice Department agent Cotton Malone was told that his father died in a submarine disaster in the North Atlantic. But what he now learns stuns him: His father’s sub was a secret nuclear vessel lost on a highly classified mission beneath the ice shelves of Antarctica. 

Twin sisters Dorothea Lindauer and Christl Falk are also determined to find out what became of their father, who died on the same submarine–and they know something Malone doesn’t: Inspired by strange clues discovered in Charlemagne’s tomb, the Nazis explored Antarctica before the Americans. Now Malone discovers that cryptic journals penned in “the language of heaven,” conundrums posed by an ancient historian, and his father’s ill-fated voyage are all tied to a revelation of immense consequence for humankind. As Malone embarks on a dangerous quest with the sisters, he will finally confront the shocking truth of his father’s death and the distinct possibility of his own.

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

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780345509635
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 12/02/2008
Series: Cotton Malone Series , #4
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 528
Sales rank: 14,353
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

Garmisch, Germany
Tuesday, December 11, The Present
1:40 pm

Cotton Malone hated enclosed spaces.

His current unease was amplified by a packed cable car. Most of the passengers were on vacation, dressed in colorful garb, shouldering poles and skis. He sensed a variety of nationalities. Some Italians, a few Swiss, a handful of French, but mainly Germans. He’d been one of the first to climb aboard and, to relieve his discomfort, he’d made his way close to one of the frosty windows. Ten thousand feet above and closing, the Zugspitze stood silhouetted against a steel- blue sky, the imposing gray summit draped in a late- autumn snow.

Not smart, agreeing to this location.

The car continued its giddy ascent, passing one of several steel tres­tles that rose from the rocky crags.

He was unnerved, and not simply from the crowded surroundings. Ghosts awaited him atop Germany’s highest peak. He’d avoided this rendezvous for nearly four decades. People like him, who buried their past so determinedly, should not help it from the grave so easily.

Yet here he was, doing exactly that.

Vibrations slowed as the car entered, then stopped at the summit station.

Skiers flooded off toward another lift that would take them down to a high- altitude corrie, where a chalet and slopes waited. He didn’t ski, never had, never wanted to.

He made his way through the visitor center, identified by a yellow placard as MŸncher Haus. A restaurant dominated one half of the building, the rest housed a theater, a snack bar, an observatory, souvenir shops, and a weather station.

He pushed through thick glass doors and stepped out onto a railed terrace. Bracing Alpine air stung his lips. According to Stephanie Nelle his contact should be waiting on the observation deck. One thing was obvious. Ten thousand feet in the high Alps certainly added a height­ened measure of privacy to their meeting.

The Zugspitze lay on the border. A succession of snowy crags rose south toward Austria. To the north spanned a soup- bowl valley ringed by rock- ribbed peaks. A gauze of frosty mist shielded the German vil­lage of Garmisch and its companion, Partenkirchen. Both were sports meccas, and the region catered not only to skiing but also bobsledding, skating, and curling.

More sports he’d avoided.

The observation deck was deserted save for an elderly couple and a few skiers who’d apparently paused to enjoy the view. He’d come to solve a mystery, one that had preyed on his mind ever since that day when the men in uniforms came to tell his mother that her husband was dead.

"Contact was lost with the submarine forty- eight hours ago. We dispatched search and rescue ships to the North Atlantic, which have combed the last known position. Wreckage was found six hours ago. We waited to tell the families until we were sure there was no chance of survivors."

His mother had never cried. Not her way. But that didn’t mean she wasn’t devastated. Years passed before questions formed in his teenage mind. The government offered little explanation beyond official re­leases. When he’d first joined the navy he’d tried to access the court of inquiry’s investigative report on the sub’s sinking, but learned it was classified. He’d tried again after becoming a Justice Department agent, possessed of a high security clearance. No luck. When Gary, his fifteen-year- old, visited over the summer, he’d faced new questions. Gary had never known his grandfather, but the boy had wanted to know more about him and, especially, how he died. The press had covered the sink­ing of the USS Blazek in November 1971, so they’d read many of the old accounts on the Internet. Their talk had rekindled his own doubts– enough that he’d finally done something about them.

He plunged balled fists into his parka and wandered the terrace.

Telescopes dotted the railing. At one stood a woman, her dark hair tied in an unflattering bun. She was dressed in a bright outfit, skis and poles propped beside her, studying the valley below.

He casually walked over. One rule he’d learned long ago. Never hurry. It only bred trouble.

"Quite a scene," he said.

She turned. "Certainly is."

Her face was the color of cinnamon which, combined with what he regarded as Egyptian features in her mouth, nose, and eyes signaled some Middle Eastern ancestry.

"I’m Cotton Malone."

"How did you know I was the one who came to meet you?"

He motioned at the brown envelope lying at the base of the tele­scope. "Apparently this is not a high- pressure mission." He smiled. "Just running an errand?"

"Something like that. I was coming to ski. A week off, finally. Al­ways wanted to do it. Stephanie asked if I could bring"–she motioned at the envelope–"that along." She went back to her viewing. "You mind if I finish this? It cost a euro and I want to see what’s down there."

She revolved the telescope, studying the German valley that stretched for miles below.

"You have a name?" he asked.

"Jessica," she said, her eyes still to the eyepiece.

He reached for the envelope.

Her boot blocked the way. "Not yet. Stephanie said to make sure you understand that the two of you are even."

Last year he’d helped out his old boss in France. She’d told him then that she owed him a favor and that he should use it wisely.

And he had.

"Agreed. Debt paid."

She turned from the telescope. Wind reddened her cheeks. "I’ve heard about you at the Magellan Billet. A bit of a legend. One of the original twelve agents."

"I didn’t realize I was so popular."

"Stephanie said you were modest, too."

He wasn’t in the mood for compliments. The past awaited him. "Could I have the file?"

Her eyes sparked. "Sure."

He retrieved the envelope. The first thought that flashed through his mind was how something so thin might answer so many questions.

"That must be important," she said.

Another lesson. Ignore what you don’t want to answer. "You been with the Billet long?"

"Couple of years." She stepped from the telescope mount. "Don’t like it, though. I’m thinking about getting out. I hear you got out early, too."

As carelessly as she handled herself, quitting seemed like a good ca­reer move. During his twelve years he’d taken only three vacations, during which he’d stayed on constant guard. Paranoia was one of many occupational hazards that came with being an agent, and two years of voluntary retirement had yet to cure the malady.

"Enjoy the skiing," he said to her.

Tomorrow he’d fly back to Copenhagen. Today he was going to make a few stops at the rare- book shops in the area–an occupational hazard of his new profession. Bookseller.

She threw him a glare as she grabbed her skis and poles. "I plan to."

They left the terrace and walked back through the nearly deserted visitor center. Jessica headed for the lift that would take her down to the corrie. He headed for the cable car that would drop him ten thou­sand feet back to ground level.

He stepped into the empty car, holding the envelope. He liked the fact that no one was aboard. But just before the doors closed, a man and woman rushed on, hand in hand. The attendant slammed the doors shut from the outside and the car eased from the station.

He stared out the forward windows.

Enclosed spaces were one thing. Cramped, enclosed spaces were another. He wasn’t claustrophobic. More a sense of freedom denied. He’d tolerated it in the past–having found himself underground on more than one occasion–but his discomfort was one reason why, years ago, when he joined the navy, unlike his father, he hadn’t opted for submarines. "Mr. Malone." He turned. The woman stood, holding a gun. "I’ll take that envelope."

From the Hardcover edition.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

“[Steve] Berry outdoes himself… [in his] best book to date.”—Library Journal, starred review

“Plenty of classic touch points are in this cliff-hanger: Nazis, secret missions, shootouts, [and] cryptic journals…In Malone, Berry has created a classic, complex hero.”—USA Today

“Action-packed . . . engrossing and suspenseful…another stunning thriller.”—Wichita Falls Times Record News

“A solid action thriller [with] colorful bad guys, likable good guys, and plenty of action scenes.”—Booklist

“[A] hair-raising adventure…Berry has another blockbuster.”—Romantic Times

“Those who relish suspense in the Da Vinci Code vein will snap this one up, the best yet in the series.”—Publishers Weekly,starred review

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

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Charlemagne Pursuit (Cotton Malone Series #4) 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 233 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
In this fourth novel featuring the one-time top operative for the U.S. Justice Department, Cotton Malone, Cotton sets out to discover the full story behind his father¿s death thirty-eight years ago. Cashing in a favor with his ex-boss Stephanie Nelle, Cotton learns a shocking the shocking secret that the Navy covered up. His father died in a top-secret submarine mission beneath the ice shelves of Antarctica. Within minutes of receiving the highly classified file Cotton finds himself in danger. In order to save himself and learn the truth behind the cover-up he teams up with twin sisters Dorothea Lindauer and Christl Falk whose father also died on the submarine. Filled with unease about working with the twins Cotton cautiously embarks on a perilous journey by solving clues left in a diary found in Charlemagne¿s tomb. Filled with non-stop action, The Charlemagne Pursuit kept me on the edge of my seat the entire book. Berry threw curve balls left and right that kept me second guessing who was a good guy and who was just plain up to no good. I actually cried at the end and even though the book is 528 pages I wished it would have gone on for 500 more. Having read all three of the previous Cotton Malone books I can honestly say that this book is the best one yet but if you¿ve haven¿t read the previous three this one does stand alone. I HIGHLY recommend this book to all thriller and suspense lovers.
GtzLstNRding More than 1 year ago
Cotton Malone has yet another adventure. This is the 2nd Berry Book I've read and mistakenly have read out of order. I hope it does not matter. I am starting to get a feel for Berry's writting style and like how he takes factual information and events and add little bits to make it his own. This only makes the story more interesting. The one thing I really ejoyed about this book is how Berry brings closure to a desparate ache in Malone's heart. This book series reminds me of a cross between the Dan Brown - Robert Langdon stories and the Jack Ryan stories - by Tom Clancy (Patriot Games).
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have read all of Steve Berry's books and like Cotton Malone, but the story really dragged and I just couldn't get into this one. Didn't even finish it.
TheCrowdedLeaf More than 1 year ago
This is Steve Berry's seventh novel, and the fourth of the Cotton Malone series. I've always enjoyed Berry's novels, grand adventures, thrilling and suspenseful, intriguing and mysterious. If you like Dan Brown and James Rollins, you will like Steve Berry. If I haven't convinced you, just go buy him for yourself and see what I mean. The Charlemagne Pursuit finds former Justice Department agent Cotton Malone involved in another race for information. It seems he can never stay settled in his Copenhagen bookstore for long, someone always needs his help. This time though, he's brought things upon himself. Nearly his whole life Cotton believed his father died on a submarine mission in the North Atlantic, that's what his mother was told. But when Cotton wants more information, he discovers not only has he been believing a lie, but someone else wants to know what happened to his father's sub as well, and another someone wants to do anything and everything to keep that information under ice. Literally. Cotton teams up with an unlikely pair of twin sisters who hate each other, but are also searching for information about their father who happened to be on the same submarine as Cotton's. Back in the United States, Cotton's former boss Stephanie Nelle has teamed up with deputy national security advisor Edwin Davis to search for information on just who is pulling the strings and placing Cotton in danger at every turn. Filled with ancient artifacts, evidence of a race of humans far older than ourselves, murderous assassins, intriguing riddles, and thrilling non-stop action, Berry once again delivers a wonderfully suspenseful novel in the Cotton Malone series. But this one is more mature than his previous editions; this one is also skillfully researched, but it's more of a serious thriller than an adrenaline-filled sensationalistic work. This one is an entrée ready to be eaten, making his earlier works seem like appetizers. I love appetizers, they're fabulous, but the entrée is where the skill is found, the true talent of the chef is displayed in the entrée. And Steve Berry proves himself a master with The Charlemagne Pursuit. Certain characters return, and others are only mentioned in passing, never to make themselves visible in this novel. But we learn more about Cotton, about his feelings, and he becomes less of a Terminator and more of an emotional human. The ending makes me happy that I waited to read The Charlemagne Pursuit, since cliffhangers make me anxious for more, and the next Cotton book, The Paris Vendetta, is already in stores. If you like thrillers and adventures, pick up a Steve Berry novel. I loved his first two, The Amber Room and The Romanov Prophecy, but the Cotton series begins with The Templar Legacy.
castillodance More than 1 year ago
You can always count on Steve Berry to deliver exciting, informative, well written thrillers..and this one is no exception. I was late in returning from my lunch break two days in a row while reading this! I always enjoy Steve because his books are based on interesting, but not over-the-top premises that provoke further reading once the novel has come to a close. Hopefully holiday elves have brought me gift cards this year so I can purchase The Paris Vendetta!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Lots of imagination.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Slow plot and unsympathetic characters ruin this book. It was entirely too boring until the last 20%. I am find myself trying to decide of I want to even bother reading another in the series. Stephanie Clanahan
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Got it
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The story line is great, but I cannot read the book because keeps resetting to a previous page or previous chapter. Very aggravating to say the least.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ok, bn. Harriet klausner and rhe other long winded plot spoilers jyst cost you another sale. Please, for gods sake, stop these plot spoilers, especially harriwt klausner. I am sick to death of her and others like her ruining a book for me. Why buy the book when these ppl just told everything that happens?????
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Thecelticdragon More than 1 year ago
My least favorite of Mr. Berry's books, but it's fascinating. Lots of twists and turns you don't see coming.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
burtmann More than 1 year ago
I enjoy all of Steve berry's novels
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
this book was all the seller said. great condition, definately a 5. I will use this seller again
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bravewarrior More than 1 year ago
Abridged CD/Code Mystery: Wow, this was bad. I can't fully blame the author because this may be a good paperback read. I don't blame narrator Scott Brick, who read tons of novels for a living. I blame the producer/director for this jumble of do-do. The director had Brick read the book really fast. When there was a change of paragraph (scene or characters), there wasn't any sort of pause in between. It kept rolling on and became confusing because there were so many characters in three parts of the world. This is book four of the Cotton Malone series, and I was confused on who everyone was. Here is what I can tell you: While in Europe, Cotton's dad died on a submarine during the 60's from toxic fumes when something went wrong. In Washington D.C., Ramsey has political aspirations and has someone kill anyone who know about the Charlemagne secret. Search party was misdirected on where sub sank. Jump to somewhere else in America, Stephanie who is one step behind a killer, I think. Davies hates Ramsey and thinks Ramsey killed some chick. The U.S. President may or may not be a good/bad guy or smart/dumb. Some guy gets blown up. Cotton meets 50 year-old twins who hate each other. The twins are pegged against each other by their mother. Their father died on sub. Cotton has sex with one twin, who you think is the good twin. Overnight, the story ends with Cotton in Antarctica, underground, in a lost frozen city with twins and mother. Cotton and twin in some Bulgarian monastery, I think, and try to figure out puzzle to lost city. Cotton's dad died here with crew and not on sub. (Not caring at this point, just want it over.) Evil twin is not evil twin, but good twin, I think. Twin kills twin and then kills herself. Cotton back at home with.... cliff hanger. Okay, the person who abridged this book needs to get blamed too. Skip the abridged audio.