Author: Steve Berry, 2010.
Genre: Conspiracy Fiction. Historical Mystery. Thriller.
Other Details: Hardback. 436 pages.
The tomb of China's First Emperor, guarded by an underground army of terra cotta warriors, has remained sealed for 2200 years. Though it's regarded as one of the greatest archaeological sites in the world, the Chinese government won't allow anyone to open it. Why not? - teaser for 'The Emperor's Tomb'
I do feel a bit sorry for Cotton Malone as he never seems to get a chance to enjoy being retired from the Justice Department. The subject of his dangerous retirement and ability to attract mayhem and cause destruction to historical sites is almost a running joke by now. I almost expect him to protest 'it wasn't my fault' as the debris settles on the latest battle site. Still, this kind of non-stop over-the-top action is very much what makes these thrillers so much fun.
The novel's Prologue has Cotton and his friend (and 'will-they?/won't they?' love interest) Cassiopeia Vitt dodging bullets and undertaking the perilous crossing of a crumbling bridge high in the Himalayas. Then, after a literal cliff-hanger moment, the action moves back three days when Cotton is contacted by a baddie who informs him that he is holding Cassiopeia captive. This rotter shows Cotton a live image of Cassiopeia being water boarded and demands that Cotton brings to him the artefact that Cassiopeia has left in his care. The only problem is that Cotton has no idea what said baddie is talking about as Cassiopeia has left nothing with him. He quickly realising that this is a ploy on her part to play for more time. So naturally he charges off to play white knight and save her.
Before long he is caught up in a power play between two rival Chinese politicians, an ancient brotherhood and encounters an old adversary. Throughout the story and characters hardly take a breath as the action moves from Denmark to Belgium to Vietnam then on to China where the main focus is leading to the climax glimpsed in the opening pages.
This was another enjoyable romp that packs a thrill a minute. I do wonder somehow when these people manage to sleep or eat though perhaps like '24''s Jack Bauer they just run on pure adrenalin. I am also very fond of Cassiopeia and it was good to have her playing a central role in this adventure.
In this edition Berry did include a much longer Author's Note than usual and included chapter references to mark various points. I expect this was to back up his statements about Chinese history, politics and culture which might be less familiar to his readers than the locations and ancient and modern historical events in his other adventures.
Steve Berry's page on 'The Emperor's Tomb' - with links to excerpt and background information.