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The Alexandria Link: A Novel

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The Alexandria Link: A Novel Cover

 

 

Excerpt

ONE

Copenhagen, Denmark

Tuesday, October 4

The present

1:45 am

Cotton Malone stared straight into the face of trou- ble. Outside his bookshops open front door stood his ex-wife, the last person on earth hed expected to see. He quickly registered panic in her tired eyes, remembered the pounding that had awoken him a few minutes before, and instantly thought of his son.

“Wheres Gary?” he asked.

“You son of a bitch. They took him. Because of you. They took him.” She lunged forward, her closed fists crashing down onto his shoulders. “You sorry son of a bitch.” He grabbed her wrists and stopped the attack as she started crying. “I left you because of this. I thought this kind of thing was over.”

“Who took Gary?” More sobs were his answer. He kept hold of her arms. “Pam. Listen to me. Who took Gary?”

She stared at him. “How the hell am I supposed to know?”

“What are you doing here? Why didnt you go to the police?”

“Because they said not to. They said if I went anywhere near the police, Gary was dead. They said they would know, and I believed them.”

“Whos they?”

She wrenched her arms free, her face flooded with anger. “I dont know. All they said was for me to wait two days, then come here and give you this.” She rummaged through her shoulder bag and produced a phone. Tears continued to rain down her cheeks. “They said for you to go online and open your e-mail.”

Had he heard right? Go online and open your e-mail?

He flipped open the phone and checked the frequency. Enough megahertz to make it world-capable. Which made him wonder. Suddenly he felt vulnerable. Højbro Plads was quiet. At this late hour no one roamed the city square.

His senses came alive.

“Get inside.” And he yanked her into the shop and closed the door. He hadnt switched on any lights.

“What is it?” she asked, her voice shredded by fear.

He faced her. “I dont know, Pam. You tell me. Our son has apparently been taken by God-knows-who, and you wait two days before telling a soul about it? That didnt strike you as insane?”

“I wasnt going to jeopardize his life.”

“And I would? How have I ever done that?”

“By being you,” she said in a frigid tone, and he instantly recalled why he no longer lived with her.

A thought occurred to him. Shed never been to Denmark. “How did you find me?”

“They told me.”

“Who the hell is they?”

“I dont know, Cotton. Two men. Only one did the talking. Tall, dark-haired, flat face.”

“American?”

“How would I know?”

“How did he speak?”

She seemed to catch hold of herself. “No. Not American. They had accents. European.”

He motioned with the phone. “What am I supposed to do with this?”

“He said to open your e-mail and it would be explained.”

She glanced nervously around at the shelves cast in shadows. “Upstairs, right?”

Gary would have told her he lived over the store. He certainly hadnt. Theyd spoken only once since hed retired from the Justice Department and left Georgia last year, and that had been two months back, in August, when hed brought Gary home after their summer visit. Shed coldly told him that Gary was not his natural son. Instead the boy was the product of an affair from sixteen years ago, her response to his own infidelity. Hed wrestled with that demon ever since and had not, as yet, come to terms with its implications. One thing hed decided at the timehe had no intention of ever speaking to Pam Malone again. Whatever needed to be said would be said between him and Gary.

But things seemed to have changed.

“Yeah,” he said. “Upstairs.”

They entered his apartment, and he sat at the desk. He switched on his laptop and waited for the programs to boot. Pam had finally grabbed hold of her emotions. She was like that. Her moods ran in waves. Soaring highs and cavernous lows. She was a lawyer, like him, but where hed worked for the government, she handled high-stakes trials for Fortune 500 companies that could afford to pay her firms impressive fees. When shed first gone to law school hed thought the decision a reflection of him, a way for them to share a life together. Later hed learned it was a way for her to gain independence.

That was Pam.

The laptop was ready. He accessed his mailbox.

Empty.

“Nothing here.”

Pam rushed toward him. “What do you mean? He said to open your e-mail.”

“That was two days ago. And by the way, how did you get here?”

“They had a ticket, already bought.”

He couldnt believe what he was hearing. “Are you nuts? What you did was give them a two-day head start.”

“Dont you think I know that?” she yelled. “You think Im a complete idiot? They told me my phones were tapped and I was being watched. If I varied from their instructions, even a little, Gary was dead. They showed me a picture.” She caught herself and tears flowed anew. “His eyes . . . oh, his eyes.” She broke down again. “He was scared.”

His chest throbbed and his temples burned. Hed intentionally left behind a life of daily danger to find something new. Had that life now hunted him down? He grabbed the edge of the desk. It would do no good for both of them to fall apart. If whoever they were wanted Gary dead, then he was already. No. Gary was a bargaining chipa way to apparently gain his undivided attention.

The laptop dinged.

His gaze shot to the screens lower-right corner: receiving mail. Then he saw greetings appear on the from line and your sons life noted as the subject. He maneuvered the cursor and opened the e-mail.

YOU HAVE SOMETHING I WANT. THE ALEXANDRIA LINK. YOU HID IT AND YOURE THE ONLY PERSON ON EARTH WHO KNOWS WHERE TO FIND IT. GO GET IT. YOU HAVE 72 HOURS. WHEN YOU HAVE IT, HIT THE NUMBER 2 BUTTON ON THE PHONE. IF I DONT HEAR FROM YOU AT THE END OF 72 HOURS, YOU WILL BE CHILDLESS. IF DURING THAT TIME YOU SCREW WITH ME, YOUR SON WILL LOSE A VITAL APPENDAGE. 72 HOURS. FIND IT AND WELL TRADE.

Pam was standing behind him. “Whats the Alexandria Link?”

He said nothing. He couldnt. He was indeed the only person on earth who knew, and hed given his word.

“Whoever sent that message knows all about it. What is it?”

He stared at the screen and knew thered be no way to trace the message. The sender, like himself, surely knew how to use black holescomputer servers that randomly routed e-mails through an electronic maze. Not impossible to follow, but difficult.

He stood from the chair and ran a hand through his hair. Hed meant to get a haircut yesterday. He worked the sleep from his shoulders and sucked a few deep breaths. Hed earlier slipped on a pair of jeans and a long-sleeved shirt that hung open, exposing a gray undershirt, and he was suddenly chilled by fear.

“Dammit, Cotton”

“Pam, shut up. I have to think. Youre not helping.”

“Im not helping? What the”

The cell phone rang. Pam lunged for it, but he cut her off and said, “Leave it.”

“What do you mean? It could be Gary.”

“Get real.”

He scooped up the phone after the third ring and pushed talk.

“Took long enough,” the male voice said in his ear. He caught a Dutch accent. “And please, no if-you-hurt-that-boy-Im-going-to-kill-you bra- vado. Neither one of us has the time. Your seventy-two hours have already started.”

Malone stayed silent, but he recalled something he learned long ago. Never let the other side set the bargain. “Stick it up your ass. Im not going anywhere.”

“You take a lot of risks with your sons life.”

“I see Gary. I talk to him. Then, I go.”

“Take a look outside.”

He rushed to the window. Four stories down Højbro Plads was still quiet, except for two figures standing on the far side of the cobbled expanse.

Both silhouettes shouldered weapons.

Grenade launchers.

“Dont think so,” the voice said in his ear.

Two projectiles shot through the night and obliterated the windows below him.

Both exploded.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

redrockbookworm, July 22, 2008 (view all comments by redrockbookworm)
With The Alexandria Link, author Steve Berry takes us on a search for the legendary lost Library of Alexandria which was assumed to have been destroyed but has in fact been preserved by a group known as the Guardians. We ride along with retired U.S. government operative Cotton Malone as his quest takes him from damp streets of London to a chateau in Vienna, from historical locations in Lisbon and the United States to a desert in the Sinai as he hunts for the document which could reveal a secret from the distant past which, if disclosed, could jeopardize the security of our modern world.

Berry has taken stories about actual historical characters like David Ben-Gurion, actual locations such as the Monastery of Santa Maria de Belem in Lisbon, old manuscripts, the works and conclusions of various scholars, the existence of an actual medieval society called The Order of the Golden Fleece, the fabricated correspondence between a couple of Saints and utilized these as the framework around which he has constructed of his story. For those readers who will immediately attempt to point out the historical discrepancies contained in this book, one needs to remember that The Alexandria Link is ultimately a work of the authors talent and imagination and this is why it is sold under the classification of fiction.

The one factual thing the book does point out (either wittingly or unwittingly) is that through the ages, religion has been used to incite wars, create economic chaos, disrupt the harmony that could potentially exist between peoples and nations, and ultimately has been the tool employed to satisfy the political aspirations and objectives of various individuals and countries.

As an entertaining distraction with which to satisfy your thirst for vicarious adventure, this book more than fills the bill.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780345485755
Subtitle:
A Novel
Author:
Berry, Steve
Publisher:
Ballantine Books
Subject:
Suspense
Subject:
Kidnapping
Subject:
Alexandrian Library
Subject:
Booksellers and bookselling
Subject:
General Fiction
Copyright:
Publication Date:
January 30, 2007
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Y
Pages:
480
Dimensions:
9.48x6.50x1.33 in. 1.75 lbs.

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Mystery » A to Z
Fiction and Poetry » Popular Fiction » Contemporary Thrillers
Fiction and Poetry » Popular Fiction » Suspense

The Alexandria Link: A Novel Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$9.50 In Stock
Product details 480 pages Ballantine Books - English 9780345485755 Reviews:
"Review" by , "As in the previous Malone mystery, contemporary issues and page-turning thriller elements combine with history in shocking ways. Fans of this type of thriller and readers who have already discovered Berry will not be disappointed."
"Review" by , "Fast action and wild plotting largely mask lackluster prose in Berry's latest what-if thriller."
"Review" by , "Trite characters and a formulaic plot...get in the way, but Berry does make intriguing use of ancient history, and the action certainly zooms along. Fun reading if you keep moving and don't take time to digest."
"Review" by , "[W]hile Berry occasionally twists himself into implausible plot pretzels, the lapses are quickly forgotten due to the sheer number of cliff-hangers....[A] welcome respite from the cold, calculating superspies who litter the genre."
"Review" by , "Dodgy history and patchy writing don't add up to a winning adventure. This is a passable but superficial exercise in suspense."
"Review" by , "For those in need of a comparison, think Jack Bauer and the hit television series 24....Berry's on a roll. And Hollywood must be paying attention."
"Review" by , "Berry has created a marketable hero, a cross between a bookish Indiana Jones and a more sympathetic Jason Bourne, who should keep fans eager for the next adventure."
"Review" by , "The Alexandria Link is by and large an engaging story, even fascinating in parts, but it is also a maddening one."
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