The Paris Vendetta

Cotton Malone Series Book 5

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When Napoleon Bonaparte died in exile in 1821, he took to the grave a powerful secret. As general and Emperor, he had stolen uncountable riches from palaces, national treasuries, even the Knights of Malta and the Vatican. In his final days, his British captors hoped to learn where the loot lay hidden. But he told them nothing and in his will he made no mention of his treasure.

Or did he?

Former-Justice Department operative Cotton Malone is about to find out after trouble comes knocking at his Copenhagen bookshop. Actually, it breaks and enters in the form of an American Secret Service agent with a pair of assassins on his heels. Malone has his doubts about the anxious young man, but narrowly surviving a ferocious firefight convinces him to follow his unexpected new ally.

Their first stop is the secluded estate of Malone's good friend, Henrik Thorvaldsen. The wily Danish tycoon has uncovered the insidious plans of the Paris Club, a cabal of multi-millionaires bent on manipulating the global economy. Only by matching wits with a terrorist-for-hire, foiling a catastrophic attack, and plunging into a desperate hunt for Napoleon's legendary lost treasure can Malone hope to avert international financial anarchy.

But Thorvaldsen's real objective is much more personal: a vendetta to avenge the murder of his son by the larcenous aristocrat at the heart of the conspiracy. Which places Malone in an impossible quandary-one that forces him to choose between friend and country, past and present. Starting in Denmark, moving to England, and ending up in the storied streets and cathedrals of Paris, Malone plays a breathless game of duplicity and death, all to claim a prize of untold value.

But at what cost?



"Thrilling . . . exciting and fast-paced . . . a worthy addition to a fine series."
Wichita Falls Times Record News


"With the September release of Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol, savvy readers looking for more along those lines cannot go wrong with Cotton Malone. This will be Berry's biggest seller yet."
Library Journal


"All the Berry hallmarks are here: scale, scope, sweep, history - plus breathless second-by-second suspense.  I love this guy."
—Lee Child, #1 New York Times bestselling writer


"Bestseller Steve Berry deftly blends contemporary suspense and historical mystery in his fifth novel to feature former U.S. Justice Department operative Cotton Malone . . . this well-crafted thriller offers plenty of surprises."
Publisher's Weekly


"A top-notch, gripping, intelligent thriller in the very finest traditions of the genre."
—Peter James, #1 Internationally bestselling writer


"Berry writes thrillers that are impossible to put down, but since they move faster than light, you won't notice the time flying by.  He expertly combines exotic locations, historical information, a secret evil, interesting characters, nonstop action and a mystery as the bad guys follow the hero every step of the way.  Do not miss his latest."
—Romantic Times (4.5 stars out of 5)


"As I read The Paris Vendetta, the hours vanished.  Pages continued to fly by. And once again I was hooked. No, more than hooked . . . I was lost. In the end, that is the true magic and mastery of (Berry's) writing, the true reason he has become the king of intrigue. You don’t just read a Steve Berry novel. You live it."
—James Rollins, New York Times bestselling writer


"Cliffhanger chapter endings become part and parcel of thriller writer extraordinaire Steve Berry's well-honed style, on display once again in The Paris Vendetta. . . . Berry has become the modern master of the thriller form, balancing his various subplots and multiple characters with a smooth and seasoned hand.  The Paris Vendetta, and everyone of his conspiracy-themed thrillers are like a giant jigsaw puzzle in which all the pieces fit perfectly together."


"Steve Berry always finds intriguing ways to link the past to the present in his fast-paced thrillers. The Paris Vendetta is his best yet."
—Harlan Coben, #1 New York Times bestselling writer


"This is easily the most fast-paced volume in the (Cotton Malone) series. . . Berry skillfully weaves his readers between truth and fiction like none other . . . With a keen understanding of his readers and brilliant research skills, The Paris Vendetta is an intelligent and exciting escapade."
—Suspense Magazine


"Once again Cotton Malone is in the middle of international intrigue. There are assassination plots, searches for hidden treasure, battles between enemies, even friends, and a taste of romance thrown into the mix. In other words it has it all and it is presented in the inimitable Berry style . . . Steve Berry gets better and better with each new book and The Paris Vendetta continues that upwards path. He has created a story that holds your interest and challenges your mind. Bring on the next one!"
—Huffington Post


"Berry is the master of creating a heart-stopping plot, driven by action, mystery and, of course, a serious history lesson."
—News-Telegram (Sulphur Springs, Texas)


"Steve Berry is a remarkable storyteller. Each of his books are more complex than the previous one . . . he continues to fulfill and exceed his own standards with each successive work, particularly since the introduction of Cotton Malone in The Templar Legacy. . . . Berry also continues to develop his always formidable ability as an action writer; there is one scene in particular that should carry a warning label, especially if one has a fear of heights and a tendency to forget to breathe. Given the ending of The Paris Vendetta, Berry's next book will almost certainly take him in new, though no less exciting, directions."




"Steve Berry writes an action-packed adventure with characters who spring to life as you read. His stories move the reader around the world in a heartbeat. He moves between the past and present with a facile grace. If you haven't followed the adventures of Cotton Malone, this is a good place to start. If you crave an adrenaline rush, you will be swept away as you follow the adventures of Cotton and his friends."


"Once again Steve Berry has produced a grand scale novel, sweeping back and forth between the present and the past. The Paris Vendetta has all of his trademarks namely historical fact, modern detail and non-stop suspense.  . . . (it) works on a new premise of the consequences of terrorism, and the Paris Club’s efforts to capitalize on this presumption make for an intelligent thriller which manages to throw up new ideas for a subject which is being played to death by some authors. This only goes to show how in the correct hands a well worn subject can be re-invigorated with a new slant or twist. The end of the book will leave you desperate for the next installment."


"As with all Berry's books the story is very well developed and documented."
—dLion on


"It was written in a way that made you want to sit up and finish regardless of what else is going on in your life....If you're looking for a fast paced conspiracy thriller then this is definitely for you."
—Gina Sharpe on


"I lived in France for four years and returned to the US yearning for another taste of the country. That desire was not cured until I picked up The Paris Vendetta. This book hurled me through my favorite city in the world with impeccable realism in a high-octane Cotton Malone adventure, which Steve Berry is obviously the master of."
—Jeffrey W on


"Exhilarating, titillating and absolutely awesome. Steve Berry never ceases to amaze me. And, I love that it's on Napoleon."
—Josh C on


"I've read all of his Cotton Malone books and feel like I've revisited old friends and made some new ones. Love how Steve Berry mixes history and fiction so wonderfully. Recommend to anyone who likes "thrillers!"
—Joan P on


"This novel does not disappoint, we have a charismatic hero in Malone now torn between duty and friendship. The plot is thrilling and exciting as we follow him on his mission to piece together all clues. Many twists and turns in the plot take the reader on a wild ride through Paris stimulating ones interest page after page. A touch of historical fact around Napoleon is a plus. Mr. Berry's formula pays, The Paris Vendetta is another entertaining novel in this adventure series.."
—Toni O on


"This is suspenseful with plenty of danger and improbable stunts. ...If you enjoy history and suspense this may be a new series to indulge in."
—Ariel on





12:40 A.M.


The bullet tore into Cotton Malone's left shoulder.

He fought to ignore the pain and focused on the plaza.  People rushed in all directions.  Horns blared.  Tires squealed.  Marines guarding the nearby American embassy reacted to the chaos, but were too far away to help.  Bodies were strewn about.  How many?  Eight?  Ten?  No.  More.  A young man and woman lay at contorted angles on a nearby patch of oily asphalt, the man's eyes frozen open, alight with shock-the woman, face down, gushing blood.  Malone had spotted two gunmen and immediately shot them both, but never saw the third, who'd clipped him with a single round and was now trying to flee, using panicked bystanders for cover.

Dammit, the wound hurt.  Fear struck his face like a wave of fire.  His legs went limp as he fought to raise his right arm.  The Beretta seemed to weigh tons, not ounces.

Pain jarred his senses.  He sucked deep breaths of sulfur-laced air and finally forced his finger to work the trigger, which only squeaked, and did not fire.


More squeaks could be heard as he tried to fire again.

Then the world dissolved to black.

Malone awoke, cleared the dream from his mind-one that had recurred many times over the past two years-and studied the bedside clock.

12:43 a.m.

He was lying atop the bed in his apartment, the night stand's lamp still on from when he'd plopped down two hours ago.

Something had roused him.  A sound.  Part of the dream from Mexico City, yet not.

He heard it again.

Three squeaks in quick succession.

His building was 17th century, completely remodeled a few months ago.  From the second to the third floor the new wooden risers now announced themselves in a precise order, like keys on a piano.

Which meant someone was there.

He reached beneath the bed and found the rucksack he always kept at the ready from his Magellan Billet days.  Inside, his right hand gripped the Beretta, the same one from Mexico City, a round already chambered.

Another habit he was glad he'd not shucked.

He crept from the bedroom.

His fourth floor apartment was less than a thousand square feet.  Besides the bedroom, there was a den, kitchen, bath, and several closets.  Lights burned in the den, where a doorway opened to the stairway.  His bookshop consumed the ground floor, and the second and third floors were used exclusively for storage and work space.

He found the doorway and hugged the inner jam.

No sound had revealed his advance, as he'd kept his steps light and his shoes to the carpet runners.  He still wore his clothes from yesterday.  He'd worked late last night after a busy Saturday before Christmas.  It was good to be a bookseller again.  That was supposedly his profession now.  So why was he holding a gun in the middle of the night, every one of his senses telling him danger was nearby?

He risked a glance through the doorway.  Stairs led to a landing, then angled downward.  He'd switched off the lights earlier before climbing up for the night, and there were no three way switches.  He cursed himself for not including some during the remodeling.  One thing that had been added was a metal bannister lining the stair's outer edge.

He fled the apartment and slid down the slick brass rail to the next landing.  No sense announcing his presence with more creaks from other wooden risers.

Carefully, he glanced down into the void.

Dark and quiet.

He slid to the next landing and worked his way around to where he could spy the third floor.  Amber lights from Højbro Plads leaked in through the building's front windows and lit the space beyond the doorway with an orange halo.  He kept his inventory there, books bought from people who, everyday, lugged them in by the box load.  'Buy for cents, sell for euros.'  That was the used book business.  Do it enough and you made money.  Even better, every once in a while a real treasure arrived inside one of the boxes.  Those he kept on the second floor, in a locked room.  So unless someone had forced that door, whoever was here had fled into the open third floor.

He slid down the last railing and assumed a position outside the third floor doorway.  The room beyond, maybe forty by twenty feet, was littered with boxes stacked several feet high.

"What do you want?" he asked, his back pressed to the outer wall.

He wondered if it had only been the dream which had sparked his alert.  Twelve years as a Justice Department agent had certainly stamped paranoia on his personality, and the last two weeks had taken a toll-one he'd not bargained for but had accepted as the price of truth.

"Tell you what," he said.  "I'm going back upstairs.  Whoever you are, if you want something, come on up.  If not, get the hell out of my shop."

More silence.

He started for the stairs.

"I came to see you," a male said from inside the storage room.

He stopped and noted the voice's nuances.  Young.  Late twenties, early thirties. American, with a trace of an accent.  And calm.  Just matter-of-fact.

"So you break into my shop?"

"I had to."

The voice was close now, just on the other side of the doorway.  He retreated from the wall and aimed the gun, waiting for the speaker to show himself.

A shadowy form appeared in the doorway.

Medium height, thin, wearing a waist length coat.  Short hair.  Hands at his side, both empty.  The face blocked by the night.

He kept the gun aimed and said, "I need a name."

"Sam Collins."

"What do you want?"

"Henrik Thorvladsen is in trouble."

"What else is new?"

"People are coming to kill him."

"What people?"

"We have to get to Thorvaldsen."

He kept the gun aimed, finger on the trigger.  If Sam Collins so much as shuddered he'd cut him down.  But he had a feeling, the sort agents acquired through hard fought experience, one which told him this young man was not lying.

"What people?" he asked again.

"We need to go to him."

He heard glass break from below.

"Another thing," Sam Collins said.  "Those people.  They're coming after me, too."


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