This is Berry's third work featuring rare book dealer Cotton Malone, a former Justice Department superagent, and sidekick Cassiopeia Vitt. The pair attempt to defeat the leader of a refurbished Soviet Union who is about to set loose a toxic viral agent whose only antidote lies buried with Alexander the Great. Although narrator Scott Brick provides subtle accents and interprets the action convincingly, his performance is unable to make this audiobook into an enjoyable listening experience. The plot is contrived, the characters are familiar, and the story is disappointing. Still, Berry has many fans, and his book (released in hardcover in December 2007) is a New York Times best seller, so librarians have a tough call on this one. Recommended with reservations. [Other best sellers in the series include The Alexandria Link and The Templar Legacy; The Venetian Betrayal is also available as downloadable audio from Audible.com.-Ed.]
The intercontinental adventures of extraordinarily resourceful bookseller Cotton Malone continue as he is sucked into the geopolitical maneuvers of an ambitious Central Asian woman who fancies herself the successor to Alexander the Great. There is no rest for weary former American intelligence agent Cotton Malone, whose bookselling retirement in Copenhagen is continually interrupted by intriguing but exhausting adventures into which he is thrown by his kindly aged Danish billionaire chum Henrik Thorvaldsen. Berry (The Alexandria Link, 2007, etc.) is keen on ancient mysteries. This time he has dreamed up a medical twist-the possible existence of a panacea which, had it been administered in time, might have saved the young lives of Alexander the Great and his boyfriend. A cabal of evil free-marketers styling themselves after the old Venetian merchants is hot on the trail of the elixir and its source, located somewhere in the realm of hard-riding Kazakh ruler Irina Zovastina. Zovastina, a would-be biological warrior, has knit together a near-empire out of the old Soviet Union, and now she wants more than anything to find the long-lost body of her personal hero, Alexander the Great. In uneasy alliance with the Venetian League, Zovastina is on the hunt for all of the remaining medals Alexander used to pass out as souvenirs, a hunt that involves the destruction of museums and mansions. Malone is involved because his and Thorvaldsen's friend, the lethal archer Cassiopeia Vitt, used to have a boyfriend who knew all about Alexander, elixirs and Greek Fire-his house has since burned down, with him in it. Because the elixir could be the cure for AIDS, and goodness knows what else, everyone winds upchasing each other through the mountains of central Asia. Cardboard characters and over-the-top plotting in some fairly spectacular scenery.