The Venetian Betrayal by Steve Berry

The Venetian BetrayalPublished: 2007

Genre: thriller

Length: 471 pages

Setting: mostly Venice and Tajikistan, present day

Interest: It started with a “V,” had a hint of historical fiction, with a story element tied to Alexander the Great (at least according to the book jacket). Turns out it’s the third book featuring Cotton Malone.

Summary: Irina Zovastina, Supreme Minister of the Central Asian Federation and obsessed with Alexander the Great, has arranged for all the existing elephant medallions (created to commemorate Alexander the Great’s death) to be stolen, and the thefts covered up with arson. Cotton Malone is drawn into the events by Cassiopeia Vitt. There turns out to be a vast web of betrayals and plans around Zovastina. Zovastina wants to start a biological war to take over neighboring countries. She’s getting money and weapons from the Venetian League, run by Enrico Vincenti. Vincenti is trying to control Zovastina by controlling the anti-agents. Turns out, the anti-agent cures all viral diseases, including HIV. Vincenti has been holding onto the cure to build up a market for the cure. Under all these story lines is a search for the tomb of Alexander the Great.

Final thoughts: An interesting book with some unique components that was hampered by some pretty obvious and annoying infodumps within story. I liked the ties to Alexander the Great, especially after reading the series by Mary Renault about him (see my review here). The motivation behind a lot of the machinations was believable – someone trying to unite the ‘stans of the old Soviet Union, and monetary greed associated with the cure for HIV. The biology was a bit iffy, but I was willing to let it go. We did jump around between the main characters in each chapter, which could be a bit disorienting until I figured out who I was with. At least we had several strong female characters in the book, both good and bad.

Title comes from: The Venetian League was a central player and there were betrayals all over the place (one of the characters flipped about five times in the story).

Reading challenges fulfilled: 45/100 in the Read-a-Latte Challenge, and a V in A-Z Reading Challenge (which takes me to 22/26)

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