Steve Berry has produced another propulsive thriller that won’t live long in the memory, but dutifully entertains. Plenty of thriller writers provide the thrills and spills expected of the genre; few do so with as much style and factual accuracy as Berry.
The 14th Colony centres around a devastating scenario: what would happen if both the president and the vice-president elect of the United States died before taking the oath of office? Would the government survive the resultant turmoil? In this eleventh Cotton Malone escapade, that’s precisely what former KGB operative Aleksandr Zorin has plotted; and armed with like-minded allies, and several decades-old suitcase nukes, he has the capacity to do so. Also involved is The Society of Cincinnati, a fraternity founded after the Revolutionary War, whose desire for a 14th colony somehow ties into the Russian’s plot. Standing in Zorin’s way are the Magellen Billet’s operatives – but with their long-time proponent, President Danny Daniels, on his way out of the Oval Office, they are a fading force, destined for obliteration by the incoming government.
In the opening chapters, Berry posits an allegiance between Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II to destabilize the Soviet Union, which offers such fertile ground for further exploration, it’s almost a shame that alone was not the focus of the novel, as what follows is a fairly formulaic romp. The 14th Colony is laced with plenty of action and fascinating history, and moves at breakneck speed guaranteed to keep readers’ eyes glued to the page —but it’s all very methodical.
The 14th Colony follows Berry’s long line of stellar thrillers, and while this one can sit proudly alongside its brethren, there doesn’t appear any attempt to advance his successful formula. That won’t matter to some – perhaps most – readers, who delve into their annual dose of Berry seeking nothing more than the shootouts, explosions, and historical intrigue he’s guaranteed to provide. But with the series now in double-figures, I’ve a desire for something fresh; perhaps a standalone, which would unshackle Berry from the constraints of his series continuity.
My desire for innovation aside – a decidedly biased condemnation, I am well aware – The 14th Colony is a fine thriller, and a page-turner in the truest sense, blending history, speculation and rip-roaring action.
Format: Paperback (234mm x 153mm x mm)
Imprint: Hodder & Stoughton Ltd
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton General Division
Publish Date: 7-Apr-2016
Country of Publication: United Kingdom