The Alexandria Link
Rating - ⭐⭐⭐1/2
"Cotton Malone retired from the high-risk world of elite operatives for the U.S. Justice Department to lead the low-key life of a rare-book dealer. But his quiet existence is shattered when he receives an anonymous e-mail: “You have something I want. You’ re the only person on earth who knows where to find it. Go get it. You have 72 hours. If I don’t hear from you, you will be childless.”
His horrified ex-wife confirms that the threat is real: Their teenage son has been kidnapped. When Malone’s Copenhagen bookshop is burned to the ground, it becomes brutally clear that those responsible will stop at nothing to get what they want. And what they want is nothing less than the lost Library of Alexandria."
The Alexandria Link is the second novel in the mystery Cotton Malone series by Steve Berry.
The fault in this book lies in the fact that it just didn't fully go there in terms of the story and characters. I wouldn't say that it was bad but it was an overall underwhelming experience.
As usual, the writing is easy to digest, but there were some moments where you can definitely see that this was written by a male author. Lines such as 'take your tight ass over there and shut up' and 'those men were my friends...you ever sleep with any of them?' Yeah...
The overarching plot follows the hunt for the link that is the key to gaining access to knowledge from the Library of Alexandria. Now, as someone who majored in Classical Studies, this concept hit a sweet spot for me, and it is a bit of a shame that this wasn't everything I needed out of it. Everything in this was just too tame for my liking. I needed more action, more movement, more history, and more stakes (or at least better ones).
The idea that knowledge from the library was saved and secretly stored is a fascinating premise, but it took too long to get to the good stuff and the plot didn't narrow in on it enough either. I found that other plot details took more precedence over what I thought was supposed to be the main plot point. I also thought that the direction the book went in was ridiculous because it turned more into an action movie than a historical mystery.
I will say though that the one positive thing about books like this is that it is full of fun facts that make me stop and look them up. For example, I had no idea that there was a museum that was tied to the library. I am kind of ashamed that I didn't do that seeing as I was a museum studies student...
This didn't really feel like a Cotton Malone book to me as his character wasn't utilized very well. Cotton is an ex-elite operative turned rare book dealer, and we didn't really get to see much of that. I felt like his past training was underutilized in this and his job as a book dealer wasn't relevant to the plot. The side characters were doing more than he was which shows the poor use of the MC.
Let's move onto the addition of a new character Pam, Cotton's ex-wife. She, to say the least, was a bit of a frustrating character as I found her to be a nuisance and was only there to create some drama. She joins Cotton as their son was kidnapped and stayed along for the journey, and all she ever did really was walk right into danger. She also had zero preservation skills despite being previously married to an ex-elite operative.
What I also didn't like was Cotton and Pam's dynamic in this. Yes, they are ex's, which is made very clear, but I didn't really need to keep reading about how bad of a partner both of them were. Pam kept it a secret from Cotton that Gray was not his son and Cotton cheated on her four times. They hold those facts over each others heads the entire time and I got it after the first time.
This book felt distracted. The plot moved away from the central story and the characters were under-utilized. If you like historical mysteries I would still give it a shot even though for me it didn't quite give me what I wanted.