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EBOOK ⚛ The Paris Vendetta: A Novel æ Chapter One copenhagen sunday, december , the present am The bullet tore into Cotton Malones left shoulder He fought to ignore the pain and focused on the plaza People rushed in all directions Horns blared Tires squealed Marines guarding the nearby American embassy reacted to the chaos, but were too far away to help Bodies were strewn about How many Eight Ten No More A young man and woman lay at contorted angles on a nearby patch of oily asphalt, the mans eyes frozen open, alight with shockthe woman, facedown, gushing blood Malone had spotted two gunmen and immediately shot them both, but never saw the third, whod clipped him with a single round and was now trying to flee, using panicked bystanders for cover Dammit, the wound hurt Fear struck his face like a wave of fire His legs went limp as he fought to raise his right arm The Beretta seemed to weigh tons, not ouncesPain jarred his senses He sucked deep breaths of sulfur laced air and finally forced his finger to work the trigger, which only squeaked, and did not fire Strange More squeaks could be heard as he tried to fire again Then the world dissolved to black Malone awoke, cleared the dream from his mindone that had recurred many times over the past two yearsand studied the bedside clock am He was lying atop the bed in his apartment, the nightstands lamp still on from when hed plopped down two hours ago Something had roused him A sound Part of the dream from Mexico City, yet not He heard it again Three squeaks in quick succession His building was th century, completely remodeled a few months ago From the second to the third floor the new wooden risers now announced themselves in a precise order, like keys on a piano Which meant someone was there He reached beneath the bed and found the rucksack he always kept at the ready from his Magellan Billet days Inside, his right hand gripped the Beretta, the same one from Mexico City, a round already chambered Another habit he was glad he hadnt shucked He crept from the bedroom His fourth floor apartment was less than a thousand square feet Besides the bedroom, there was a den, kitchen, bath, and several closets Lights burned in the den, where a doorway opened to the stairway His bookshop consumed the ground floor, and the second and third floors were used exclusively for storage and work space He found the doorway and hugged the inner jamb No sound had revealed his advance, as hed kept his steps light and his shoes to the carpet runners He still wore his clothes from yesterday Hed worked late last night after a busy Saturday before Christmas It was good to be a bookseller again That was supposedly his profession now So why was he holding a gun in the middle of the night, every one of his senses telling him danger was nearby He risked a glance through the doorway Stairs led to a landing, then angled downward Hed switched off the lights earlier before climbing up for the night, and there were no three way switches He cursed himself for not including some during the remodeling One thing that had been added was a metal banister lining the stairs outer edge He fled the apartment and slid down the slick brass rail to the next landing No sense announcing his presence withcreaks from other wooden risers Carefully, he glanced down into the void Dark and quiet He slid to the next landing and worked his way around to where he could spy the third floor Amber lights from Hjbro Plads leaked in through the buildings front windows and lit the space beyond the doorway with an orange halo He kept his inventory therebooks bought from people who, every day, lugged them in by the boxload Buy for cents, sell for euros That was the used book business Do it enough and you made money Even better, every once in a while a real treasure arrived inside one of the boxes Those he kept on the second floor, in a locked room So unless someone had forced that door, whoever was here had fled into the open third floor He slid down the last railing and assumed a position outside the third floor doorway The room beyond, maybe forty by twenty feet, was littered with boxes stacked several feet high What do you want he asked, his back pressed to the outer wall He wondered if it had only been the dream that had sparked his alert Twelve years as a Justice Department agent had certainly stamped paranoia on his personality, and the last two weeks had taken a tollone he hadnt bargained for but had accepted as the price of truth Tell you what, he said Im going back upstairs Whoever you are, if you want something, come on up If not, get the hell out of my shop More silence He started for the stairs I came to see you, a male said from inside the storage room He stopped and noted the voices nuances Young Late twenties, early thirties American, with a trace of an accent And calm Just matter of fact So you break into my shop I had to The voice was close now, just on the other side of the doorway He retreated from the wall and aimed the gun, waiting for the speaker to show himself A shadowy form appeared in the doorway Medium height, thin, wearing a waist length coat Short hair Hands at his sides, both empty The face blocked by the night He kept the gun aimed and said, I need a name Sam Collins What do you want Henrik Thorvaldsen is in trouble What else is new People are coming to kill him What people We have to get to Thorvaldsen He kept the gun aimed, finger on the trigger If Sam Collins so much as shuddered hed cut him down But he had a feeling, the sort agents acquired through hard fought experience, one that told him this young man was not lying What people he asked again We need to go to him He heard glass break from below Another thing, Sam Collins said Those people Theyre coming after me, tooChapter Two bastia, corsica am Graham Ashby stood atop the Place du Dujon and admired the tranquil harbor Around him, crumbly pastel houses were stacked like crates among churches, the olden structures overshadowed by the plain stone tower that had become his perch His yacht, Archimedes, lay at anchor half a kilometer away in the Vieux Port He admired its sleek, illuminated silhouette against the silvery water Winters second night had spawned a cool dry wind from the north that swept across Bastia A holiday stillness hung heavy, Christmas was only two days away, but he could not care less The Terra Nova, once Bastias center of military and administrative activity, had now become a quarter of affluence with lofty apartments and trendy shops lining a maze of cobbled streets A few years ago, hed almost invested in the boom, but decided against it Real estate, especially along the Mediterranean shoreline, no longer brought the return it once had He gazed northeast at the Jete du Dragon, an artificial quay that had not existed just a few decades ago To build it, engineers had destroyed a giant lion shaped rock dubbed the Leone, which once blocked the harbor and had figured prominently in many pre twentieth century engravings When Archimedes had cruised into the protected waters two hours ago, hed quickly spotted the unlit castle keep upon which he now stoodbuilt by the islands th century Genoese governorsand wondered if tonight would be the night He hoped so Corsica was not one of his favorite places Nothing but a mountain springing from the sea,miles long,miles wide square miles,miles of coast Its geography varied from alpine peaks to deep gorges, pine forests, glacial lakes, pastures, fertile valleys, and even some desert At one time or another Greeks, Carthaginians, Romans, Aragonese, Italians, Brits, and the French had conquered, but none had ever subjugated the islands rebellious spirit Another reason why hed passed on investing Far too many variables in this unruly French dpartement The industrious Genoese founded Bastia inand built fortresses to protect it, his tower perch one of the last remaining The town had served as the capital of the island until , when Napoleon decided that his birthplace, Ajaccio, in the south, would be better He knew the locals had still not forgiven the little emperor for that transgression He buttoned his Armani overcoat and stood close to a medieval parapet His tailored shirt, trousers, and sweater clung to his fifty eight year old frame with a reassuring feel He bought all his ensembles at Kingston Knight, as had his father and grandfather Yesterday a London barber had spent half an hour trimming his gray mane, eliminating those pale waves that seemed to make him look older He was proud at how he retained the appearance and vigor of ayoutYou don t just read a Steve Berry novel You live it James Rollins A top notch, gripping, intelligent thriller in the very finest traditions of the genre Peter James Steve Berry always finds intriguing ways to link the past to the present in his fast paced thrillers The Paris Vendetta is his best yet Harlan Coben All the Berry hallmarks are here scale, scope, sweep, history plus breathless second by second suspense I love this guy Lee Child Sexy, illuminatingmy kind of thriller Dan Brown on THE AMBER ROOM In Malone, Berry has created a classic, complex hero USA Today on THE CHARLEMAGNE PURSUIT Pure intrigue Pure fun Clive Cussler on Steve Berry Action packed, fast paced and engaging Sunday Express on THE VENETIAN BETRAYAL Complex and fast moving thriller writing, delivered with a great deal of dash, and shades of The Da Vinci Code Good Book Guide on THE TEMPLAR LEGACY International intrigue, swashbuckling action, indestructible hero from the American SouthNot to be missed Kirkus Reviews, on THE ROMANOV PROPHECY