The Columbus Affair A Summer Blockbuster
- Monday, May 21, 2012
Author: Steve Berry
Title: The Columbus Affair
Publisher: Ballantine Books
The Columbus Affair may not be a major motion picture (yet) but it has all the hallmarks of a summer blockbuster. Think of it as Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade meets Da Vinci Code and prepare to be entertained.
Tom Sagan is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter who bounced from one global hot spot to the next, leaving his wife and daughter to fend for themselves. Make that "was" a prize-winning journalist with a wife and daughter. Tom lost it all—awards, career, and family—when one of his hard-hitting stories from the Middle East was proved to be a fraud.
Tom was set up, but no one believed him. Years later, haunted by his fall from grace, bad decisions, and unanswered questions, Tom is seconds away from suicide when a mysterious man shows up at his door. The man, Zachariah Simon, has a "request" for Tom and to ensure his compliance, he has Tom's estranged adult daughter in his power.
Tom may be a terrible father, but he's a father, nonetheless. No matter how much she hates him, Tom can't endure the sight of his only child bound and helpless. He agrees to Simon's plan…but that doesn't mean he'll go quietly; this wily ex-reporter still has a few tricks up his sleeve. And so the chase begins.
Before you know it, the locale shifts from Florida to Vienna to Prague to Jamaica, with plenty of mystery, danger, and pulse-pounding action along the way. It's all aimed at unlocking the key to a 500-year-old mystery and, as the title suggests, Christopher Columbus was involved. So was Tom's father, who took the secret to his grave (which may not be as much of a setback as one might think). The problem is, finding the ancient treasure Columbus hid centuries ago could have disastrous consequences in the modern world. Of course, that all depends on who finds it first (assuming it actually exists).
While The Columbus Affair is a fast-paced adventure story it doesn't skimp on interesting, authentic characters. Tom's rocky relationship with his daughter makes for an interesting subplot, as does the oddly sympathetic Jamaican crime boss who metes out justice in his own unconventional way. Even the minor characters—a former colleague of Tom's, an elderly rabbi, and so on—are fully formed, fascinating people.
Although the story has a decidedly Jewish flavor, Christianity is afforded respect even by those characters who don't agree with its beliefs. Due to the high concentration of bad guys who act accordingly, this is not a novel for readers who can't handle violence. While it features only a brief scene with sexual content and the profanity is pretty mild (da** and he**), there's plenty of fighting, shooting, and creative forms of death. Remember the earlier reference to Indiana Jones? It's much the same style of thing.
That aside, The Columbus Affair is perfect summer reading: engrossing, entertaining, and educational. Not only is it a good yarn, it might just change the way you think about the man who may (or may not!) have discovered America.
*This Review First Published 5/21/2012
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