The Patriot Threat (Cotton Malone, Book #10)
by Steve Berry
Release Date: March 31st, 2015
2015 Minotaur Books
Ebook Edition; 400 Pages
Genre: Fiction / Suspense
Source: Review copy from publisher
3.5 / 5 Stars
Cotton Malone, once a
member of an elite intelligence division within the Justice Department
known as the Magellan Billet, is now retired and owns an old bookshop in
Denmark. But when his former-boss, Stephanie Nelle, asks him to track a
rogue North Korean who may have acquired some top secret Treasury
Department files—the kind that could bring the United States to its
knees—Malone is vaulted into a harrowing twenty-four hour chase that
begins on the canals in Venice and ends in the remote highlands of
With appearances by Franklin Roosevelt, Andrew Mellon, a
curious painting that still hangs in the National Gallery of Art, and
some eye-opening revelations from the $1 bill, this riveting, non-stop
adventure is trademark Steve Berry—90% historical fact, 10% exciting
speculation—a provocative thriller posing a dangerous question: What if the Federal income tax is illegal?
The Patriot Threat is the tenth book in the Cotton Malone series and in this one, we find Cotton and the gang investigating documents questioning the ratification of the 16th Amendment and whether the Federal income tax is illegal or not. Overall, I found the concept in this novel quite intriguing, and the novel was definitely well-researched, including a lot of factual information mixed in with the fantastical. However, compared to some of his previous novels, I did find that the plot was sort of formulaic, predictable, and there was little to no character development.
The information regarding the 16th Amendment was actually quite interesting. As a Canadian, I found the concept to be quite fascinating, and as usual, the idea of big secrets that could topple a government is always intriguing. I tend to enjoy novels where a 'quest' for information is involved and it's not just one shoot-out after another. I really liked how the author managed to create a believable story and interweave other nations into the equation, creating this huge international problem that could topple and cripple an entire nation. The concept that one could achieve this without setting off a single bomb is a bit scary, especially if something like this does, in fact, exist. Players from North Korea, including the powerful Kim family, played a huge role in this novel, and it was interesting to read some more about the labour camps and some of the issues that plague North Korea. While I did enjoy the historical aspect to this novel however, I couldn't discount the weaker plot points that existed. I felt like the plot was missing that little something that existed in previous novels and didn't have that spark; perhaps the weak character development and the writing had something to do with it as I didn't feel that connection to these characters, or to the story, that I usually have. And some of the action did seem a bit out there this time.
I actually think the biggest problem was the character development, and not necessarily the plot itself. While I have grown attached to these characters over the years, and watched them struggle and grow, I definitely did not feel anything like that in this novel. It was a bit distracting as I like to feel a connection to the characters; I mean, I should have felt some compassion for Hana, Kim's daughter, but the writing didn't encourage empathy, but rather detachment, and because of that, I wasn't upset at what happened to her when I should have felt sadness and disappointment over someone who had such a rough life. Because of this, I felt the plot was disconnected.
The Patriot Threat is one of those novels over which I had mixed feelings: on the one hand, I enjoyed the well-researched historical background and the mix of colourful historical figures that were discussed, while on the other hand, I felt the plot itself was formulaic and predictable, with little character development or growth. If I were to make a suggestion, I wouldn't necessarily begin with this one, but start with one of his earlier books to get a good feel for the characters and interesting story lines. Would I read another one by Berry? Yes, of course, as I really enjoyed his earlier novels and feel that there is so much more growth in store for Cotton and so many more problems for him to solve. And please bring back Cassiopeia!!