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May 17, 2:28pm Top

Where are we up to in the series?
What do you like most about these books?
What are you hoping for from this book?

May 17, 2:30pm Top

Thanks to Eadie 👏👏👏 for sorting out the schedule for this book (and the offers of help from Brenda) whilst I waited to get my hands on a copy of the book!

Edited: May 17, 3:57pm Top

>2 Andrew-theQM: Anytime you need assistance, we can be sure to help!

We are up to the 5th book of this series. Hopefully, Carol will come along and give us her synopsis of the books.

I like the historical details and Cotton Malone's adventures in these books.

I'm hoping for some more history and great action parts from this book.

May 17, 4:10pm Top

>3 EadieB: Thanks 😊

I'm hoping to get back to more action and interaction between the main characters. I hope Cassiopeia and Henrik play a bigger part in the book, I would also like to see a part for his wife and/or son. I also want a big historical section with a hunt for a historical treasure. These are the key things I like about the books.

May 17, 4:38pm Top

>4 Andrew-theQM: I would like to see more of Cassiopeia too.

Edited: May 17, 5:30pm Top

The Templar Legacy by Steve Berry
Cotton Malone series Book #1
June 2016 – Last one read on Leafmarks

Here we are introduced to Cotton Malone, a former covert agent of the U.S. Justice Department.

Malone finds himself drawn into the pursuit of the Templar legacy when what was supposed to be a visit with Stephanie Nelle, his former supervisor at Justice, turns into a purse snatching that ends when the perpetrator, after being cornered, commits suicide.

It develops that the would-be thief is after a notebook of Nelle's late and estranged husband that has passed into her possession under somewhat mysterious circumstances. Nelle's husband had become famous writing a number of speculative works concerning European mysteries of the 14th century, including the disappearance of the Templar fortune. His notebooks and a seemingly innocuous manuscript appear to hold the key to the ultimate location of the treasure trove.

Malone and Nelle are in competition with others in a race to the treasure…a race that includes the modern-day leader of the Templars, an organization that has continued to exist quietly, biding its time.

Malone gets some assistance from unexpected sources, including an exotic and capable Moslem beauty with an agenda of her own and a Templar monk whose destiny appears to be forewritten in prophecy.

Intermixed with the action and adventure is not only a good amount of information on the history of the Knights Templar, but the contradictions amongst the various Gospels in terms of the Resurrection as well.

As they draw closer to unearthing the treasure, however, Malone finds that the number of people whom he can fully trust becomes fewer and fewer, even as the path to the treasure, and the Templar legacy, grows more dangerous.

As a group we found Cotton Malone to be a likable, capable, and ultimately believable character….one who is perhaps more competent cerebrally than physically.

After cashing in his retirement from the Justice Department he owns and operates a bookstore in Denmark…but it seems his criminal hunting days are far from over.

This was the last book we discussed on Leafmarks in June 2016.

I did find a few of our comments:

“There are many twists and turns in the tale, which makes for a fast-paced, exciting story that is sure to grip the reader.”

Comment about the audio version of the story: “There were times when Brian Corrigan's attempts at the French accent of this book's arch-villain, Raymond De Roquefort, that he sounded so much like Peter Sellers's Inspector Clouseau with a bad head cold. In spite of that the story line was absolutely magnificent.”

The clues that Cotton Malone and his band of merry men and women were tasked with finding and interpreting were well over this readers head but I did so enjoy the journey. This is the perfect blend for thriller fans and history buffs alike.”

“The plot of finding the Templar treasure made for a very adventurous tale. I learned a lot about the history of the Templars, the Rennes-le-Chateau, Avignon and Pyrenees areas of France which was very fascinating.”

There were 6 participants with an overall rating of 3.58

The Alexandria Link by Steve Berry
Cotton Malone Book #2
Read: October 15-20, 2016

Retired US operative Cotton Malone is attempting to live a quiet life and is running a bookshop in Copenhagen.

Retirement comes to an abrupt halt when he escapes the assassins who have burned down his bookshop and tells him they have kidnapped his son…nearly trapping him and his ex-wife, Pam, inside.

Cotton is forced to join forces with Pam when it seems assassins may be on her trail as well.

They get their son back, but then they find themselves caught between ancient organizations: the Guardians of the Library at Alexandria, pledged to keep its secrets safe, and the Order of the Golden Fleece, a ruthless sect of the powerful who meet in secret and who have vowed to claim the Library for themselves.

Accompanying Cotton and Pam is the Order's pet assassin, who has a few plans of his own regarding the library.

At the same time, treachery is afoot in the US government with the president, vice president, secretary of state, and the heads of several security departments all mistrusting each other as a web of secrets and lies is unraveled.

Cotton’s former boss who has always had his back has been fired by the President…but that doesn’t stop her from trying to sort out the mess at home with the help of a friend and super-hero type…Cassiopeia.

The plot is complicated, and intrigue and double-crossing abounds. The reader is kept off balance at every turn as the characters double and triple cross each other. The action is fast-paced, and the clues are intriguing but far above most reader ability to interpret.

At stake is an explosive ancient document with the potential not only to change the destiny of the Middle East but to shake the world’s three major religions to their very foundations.

There were 7 participants in the discussion and all 7 of us rated the book 4.5. In looking at other reviews this rating is much higher than any other sites. Reading together must have some benefit for the outcome.

Participants: Andrew, Carol, Lynda, Eadie, Sergei, Brenda & Bluebird.

Overall rating was 4.5

Comments were also positive.

"Great book with a great ending! Lots of surprises, but none that made the reader feel cheated or left out."

"Great story and plot...fast moving and never a dull moment. Hope we continue to discuss this series. Hope Stevie can write fast enough for us."

"I like books mixed with history, religion and suspense. This book had it all!"

" Excellent story that was really plot filled…. I can't wait to continue the series."
The Venetian Betrayal by Steve Berry
Cotton Malone Book #2
Read: December 17-22, 2916

Back for his third time is Cotton Malone, a spy-turned-bookseller-turned-reluctant-hero. This novel also sees the return of many of Steve Berry's regular cast of characters, including some of our favorites like Cassiopeia Vitt and Henrik Thorvaldsen.

We are taken to the Central Asian Federation, a new mega-state of former Soviet Republics such as Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan ruled by an interesting new character, ruthless and intelligent, but entirely unlikable, Irina Zovastina. It is her obsession with finding the tomb of Alexander the Great that drives the plot forward, taking us from Denmark to the borders of China.

Zovastina seeks the tomb for the political power associated with a claim on this world conqueror; however, there is another reason to seek the tomb. Apparently, there is a miraculous cure associated with the tomb which brings in the interest of an international pharmaceutical company which also just happens to produce biological weapons.

Of course the good guys are out to stop the bad guys from getting to the tomb and getting the goods to kill the world. It seems everyone is more than a little obsessed with Alexander the Great, his mummy and the draught said to cure anything that ails the person who might drink it. A number of riddles have been distributed throughout history that is supposed to help the searcher. Smarter people than most of us have failed to understand them so none of the discussion group should feel too bad.

Cotton Malone is paired up with Cassiopeia Vitt to solve this world class problem. This time Cassiopeia has another complex problem of her own to work through and takes many unnecessary risks to pull this off.

Malone is more or less pressed into service by his friend and mentor Thorvaldsen, as well as the President of The United States

There were 8 participants in the discussion with one new person joining the group. Most gave the book a 4. There was 1; 4.5 and 1; 3.5 for an overall average of 4.00


"I loved learning about Alexander the Great and enjoyed Berry's writing and research. I found Irina Zovastina a fascinating character even though she was so wicked. If you love history with your adventure reads, you will definitely enjoy this series."

"I liked the story. I really want to know more about Alexader. I thought making Irina the bad guy was nice and creative. Usually the bad guy is the same character we've seen in so many books."

"I liked learning about Alexander the Great. Berry's writing and research was amazing. It was different to see a woman as the bad guy."

"I thought the ending was so unbelievable. I had to remember to keep my belief suspended."

"Too long and dragged in places."

"Didn't like Berry's portrayal of Cassiopeia or the boyfriend (gosh, I've already forgotten his name). This Cassiopeia was nothing like the woman we met in the prior book. Some of her behavior could have been explained away by her concern for what's his name, but her total meltdown, loss of common sense and lack critical thinking was too far out of character for me."
The Charlemagne Pursuit by Steve Berry
Cotton Malone series Book #4

Cotton Malone embarks on a search for answers about his father, Capt. Forrest Malone, after learning that instead of dying in 1971 in a nuclear sub accident in the North Atlantic, his father actually died while on a secret submarine mission to the Antarctic.

Using his connections in the federal government, Cotton asks to see a classified file that details the mission that resulted in his father's death.

Cotton is not the only person who wants this file, and they are willing and able to kill in order to get it.

Meanwhile, bad guy Adm. Langford Ramsey schemes to become the next ranking officer of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The two story lines merge as a group led by Malone races to Antarctica, where they find a strange underground city belonging to the Aryans, an advanced race who inhabited the earth at the dawn of our own civilization.

We found that Steve Berry is a meticulous researcher, as he skillfully integrates such elements as Charlemagne, Nazis, ancient manuscripts, historical puzzles and scientific surprises into the plot.

There were 7 participants in the discussion with an overall rating of 3.08.


"The writing was choppy and the action moved from one subplot to another. There were several separate plot lines going on, none of them compelling. The characters are neither likable nor their motivations believable."

"Make the story shorter and more pacy; make every word move the story along."

"The story needed to be shorter. Don't jump around so much in the timeline. Put Cotton with his crew that he usually works with and give us some likable characters."

"I honestly thought that Ramsey and Smith were actually the best characters in the entire book. You could always look forward to seeing what new evil they would carry out. "

May 17, 5:39pm Top

Thanks Carol!

May 17, 5:57pm Top

Thanks Carol - hopefully with this book we will get back to the level of ratings for book 2 Not book 4.

May 18, 3:40am Top

Good job, as usual, Carol; this definitely helped to jog my memory - I'd forgotten Cotton's quest to find his dad's final resting place.

May 18, 6:19am Top

Thank you everyone. Thanks also to >7 EadieB: for the schedule. >8 Andrew-theQM: Always ask for help when you feel that you are being overwhelmed or have something come up. We are always here for you.

Edited: May 18, 4:17pm Top

>10 Carol420: Thanks Carol and the paperwork is in the post! The OFSTED (School Inspectors) will be on the next flight. 😊 We are now in that very stressful period where end of year tests/assessments are taking place for four different year groups and where you pray all the hard work over the previous 9 months pays off. 🤞 You are only as good as the latest results and very data driven education system.

May 18, 3:06pm Top

>11 Andrew-theQM: Well you just tell them that your online reading group students think you are wonderful!

May 18, 4:08pm Top

>11 Andrew-theQM: Oh boy...I can have a lot of fun with the School Inspectors:) When do you want them back?

Edited: May 18, 5:18pm Top

>13 Carol420: What makes you think I want them back! Although to be fair in 14.5 years of headship (principal) only had 3 inspections due to the strong perfpormanxe of the schools. Some have more than that in 2 or 3 years where there are issues.

Edited: May 18, 5:19pm Top

>12 EadieB: Thanks Eadie. I'll remember when we next get an inspection to tell them to contact you. 😊

May 18, 5:47pm Top

>15 Andrew-theQM: They better not have any issues with your school or their story may end up on Vera as one of her mysteries called Where Have They Buried the School Inspectors.

May 18, 6:02pm Top

>16 EadieB: Lol 😂

May 19, 6:25am Top

>16 EadieB: Like that idea a lot. Can I help??? Please!

May 19, 7:25am Top

>18 Carol420: Sure, you are the lady with the shovel!

May 19, 7:57am Top

>16 EadieB: I'll come along and hold the torch/flashlight.

Edited: May 19, 8:08am Top

>19 EadieB: >20 Sergeirocks: Lynda will have to notify Vera and we'll have to come up with jobs for Brenda and Bluebird. Maybe they can help move the bodies. We'll save you, Andrew!

May 19, 9:20am Top

>21 Carol420: We'll need somebody to drive the getaway van, and somebody to keep an eye out...

May 19, 10:27am Top

>22 Sergeirocks: Those would be two important tasks. Knowing us we'll need a sharp eye and and a fast driver as we'll probably get caught:)

May 19, 11:42am Top

>4 Andrew-theQM: I want to see the same things! Let's get back to a rip-roaring hunt for a historical treasure. After reading the first section it looks like Henrik may play a prominent role. Fingers crossed that Cassiopeia returns too.

As I've said in the past--I'm very squemish, so moving the bodies is out. However, I'm happy to be the lookout. : )

Good luck Andrew. Not that it's any consolation, but testing standards are the rule here in the US also (or at least in my neck of the woods).

May 19, 12:01pm Top

As long as you can get rid of the teachers that do not perform. I hate that tenure that the teachers get. Our kids are the ones that suffer from tenure!

May 19, 3:06pm Top

Now of course I need an alibi, I'd be the most likely suspect so I need someone to lock me out in the playground!

May 19, 3:09pm Top

>24 Bluebird1: Thanks Bluebird. This is the education game in both the UK and US. Not helped when they significantly ramped up the standards in the tests for Y2 (age 7) and Y6 (age 11). This year is only the second year for these much tougher tests.


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