December 14th, 2017
Home | Log in! or Register

On Top Shelf
Melinda LeighMelinda Leigh
Fresh Fiction
Fresh Pick
Todays_Pick
DREAMING OF A WHITE WOLF CHRISTMAS

Holiday Giveaways

Reviewer Application

Readers & 'ritas


December brings fabulous reads!

Slideshow image


Since your web browser does not support JavaScript, here is a non-JavaScript version of the image slideshow:

slideshow image
Ex-NFL star + snarky single mom = a touchdown of a holiday romance


slideshow image
The vampires are coming... and this time, the lights won't stop them.


slideshow image
The owner of a delightful Southern café tastes the sharp sting of suspicion in this delectable comfort food mystery...


slideshow image
This holiday season, love is on the menu.


slideshow image
A Spartan heart can conquer anything, even myths, magic, and monsters.


slideshow image
There’s nothing like a firefighting cowboy to keep you toasty warm this Christmas...


The Columbus Affair

The Columbus Affair, May 2012
by Steve Berry

Ballantine
Featuring: Zachariah Simon; Tom Sagan
432 pages
ISBN: 0345526511
EAN: 9780345526519
Kindle: B005OCYQJU
Hardcover / e-Book
Add to Wish List


Purchase



"An exciting paradigm of historical imagination coupled with thrilling adventure."

Fresh Fiction Review

The Columbus Affair
Steve Berry

Reviewed by Tanzey Cutter
Posted April 3, 2012

Thriller Arcane

Renowned investigative journalist Tom Sagan's reputation and life is in shambles after one of his cutting-edge reports was exposed as a fraud. He knows he was setup, but there is no way he can prove it. Just as Tom is prepared to end it all, a mysterious stranger intrudes with a persuasive proposition.

Enigmatic and scholarly Zachariah Simon is many things to different people, but dangerous best describes him in this circumstance, since Simon has Tom's estranged daughter under his control. Simon is seeking the key to a 500-year- old mystery concerning Christopher Columbus, and Simon has learned that Tom is the one who can provide it. Even though Tom has no idea what Simon is referring to, he has no choice but to go along with him. The perilous pursuit takes them around the world, with each new clue leading to yet another clue and involving even more dangerous people along the way.

Skipping between the present-day quest to the past adventures of Columbus makes for enlightening historical reading, as well as speculative insights and conclusions. The opening quote in this book sets a perfect stage for this thrilling historical adventure. "For 500 years historians have pondered the question: Who was Christopher Columbus? The answer is simply another question: Who do you want him to be?" NYT bestselling author Steve Berry's historical research is extensive and his ability to then write an absorbing and compelling story is exemplary. One of the best thrillers I've read this year!

Learn more about The Columbus Affair

SUMMARY

He was called by many names—Columb, Colom, Colón—but we know him as Christopher Columbus. Many questions about him exist: Where was he born, raised, and educated? Where did he die? How did he discover the New World?

None have ever been properly answered.

And then there is the greatest secret of all.

From Steve Berry, New York Times bestselling author, comes an exciting new adventure—one that challenges everything we thought we knew about the discovery of America.

Pulitzer Prize–winning investigative journalist Tom Sagan has written hard-hitting articles from hot spots around the world. But when a controversial report from a war-torn region is exposed as a fraud, his professional reputation crashes and burns. Now he lives in virtual exile—haunted by bad decisions and the shocking truth he can never prove: that his downfall was a deliberate act of sabotage by an unknown enemy. But before Sagan can end his torment with the squeeze of a trigger, fate intervenes in the form of an enigmatic stranger with a request that cannot be ignored.

Zachariah Simon has the look of a scholar, the soul of a scoundrel, and the zeal of a fanatic. He also has Tom Sagan’s estranged daughter at his mercy. Simon desperately wants something only Sagan can supply: the key to a 500- year-old mystery, a treasure with explosive political significance in the modern world. For both Simon and Sagan the stakes are high, the goal intensely personal, the consequences of opposing either man potentially catastrophic. On a perilous quest from Florida to Vienna to Prague and finally to the mountains of Jamaica, the two men square off in a dangerous game. Along the way, both of their lives will be altered—and everything we know about Christopher Columbus will change.

Excerpt

CHAPTER ONE

Tom Sagan gripped the gun. He'd thought about this moment for the past year, debating the pros and cons, finally deciding that one pro outweighed all cons.

He simply did not want to live any longer.

He'd once been an investigative reporter for the Los Angeles Times, knocking down a solid six figure salary, his marquee by-line generating one front page, above-the-fold story after another. He'd worked all over the world—Sarajevo, Beijing, Johannesburg, Belgrade, and Moscow. But the Middle East became his specialty, a place he came to know intimately, where his reputation had been forged. His confidential files were once filled with hundreds of willing sources, people who knew he'd protect them at all costs. He'd proved that when he spent eleven days in a D.C. jail for failing to reveal his source on a story about a corrupt Pennsylvania congressman.

That man had gone to prison.

Tom had received his third Pulitzer nomination.

There were twenty-one awarded categories. One was for ‘distinguished investigative reporting by an individual or team, reported as a single newspaper article or a series.' Winners received a certificate, $10,000, and the ability to add three precious words—Pulitzer Prize winner—to their name.

He won his.

But they took it back.

Which seemed the story of his life.

Everything had been taken back.

His career, his reputation, his credibility, even his self respect. In the end he became a failure as a son, a father, a husband, a reporter, and a friend. A few weeks ago he'd charted that spiral on a pad, identifying that it all started when he was twenty-five, fresh out of the University of Florida, top third in his class, a journalism degree in hand.

Then his father disowned him.

Abiram Sagan had been unrelenting.

"We all make choices. Good. Bad. Indifferent. You're a grown man, Tom, and have made yours. Now I have to make mine."

And that he had.

On that same pad he'd jotted down the highs and lows. Some from before, as editor of his high school paper and campus reporter at college. Most after. His rise from a news assistant, to staff reporter, to senior international correspondent. The awards. Accolades. Respect from his peers. How had one observer described his style? Wide- ranging and prescient reporting conducted at great personal risk.

Then, his divorce.

The estrangement from his only child. Poor investment decisions. Even poorer life decisions.

Finally, his firing.

Eight years ago.

And the seemingly nothing life since.

Most of his friends were gone. But that was as much his fault as theirs. As his personal depression had deepened he'd withdrawn into himself. Amazing he hadn't turned to alcohol or drugs, but neither had ever appealed to him.

Self pity was his intoxicant.

He stared around at the house's interior.

He'd decided to die, here, in his parents' home. Fitting, in some morbid way. Thick layers of dust and a musty smell reminded him that for three years the rooms had sat empty. He'd kept the utilities on, paid the meager taxes, and had the lawn cut just enough so the neighbors wouldn't complain. Earlier, he'd noticed that the sprawling mulberry tree out front needed trimming, the picket fence painting.

He hated it here. Too many ghosts.

He walked the rooms, remembering happier days. In the kitchen he could still see jars of his mother's jam that once lined the windowsill. The thought of her brought a wave of an unusual joy that quickly faded.

He should write a note and explain himself, blame somebody or something. But to who? Or what? Nobody would believe him if he told them the truth. Unfortunately, just like eight years ago, there was no one to blame but himself.

Would anyone even care he was gone?

Certainly not his daughter. He'd not spoken to her in two years.

His literary agent? Maybe. She'd made a lot of money off his ghostwriting. He'd been shocked to learn how many so-called bestselling fiction writers could not write a word. What had one critic said at the time of his downfall? Journalist Sagan seems to have a promising career ahead of him writing fiction.

Asshole.

But he'd actually taken that advice.

He wondered—how does one explain taking their own life? It's, by definition, an irrational act. Which, by definition, defies explanation. Hopefully, somebody would bury him. He had plenty of money in the bank, more than enough for a respectable funeral.

What would it be like to be dead?

Are you aware? Can you hear? See? Smell? Or is simply an eternal blackness. No thoughts. No feeling.

Nothing at all.

He walked back toward the front of the house.

Outside was a glorious March day, the noon time sun bright. Florida was truly blessed with some terrific weather. It was one reason he'd moved back from California after his firing. He'd miss the feel of a warm sun on a pleasant summer's day.

He stopped in the open archway and stared at the parlor. That was what his mother had always called the room. This was where his parents had gathered on Shabbat. Where Abiram read from the Torah. The place where Yom Kippur and Holy Days had been celebrated. He recalled the sight of the pewter menorah on the far table burning. His parents had been devout Jews. After his bar mitzvah he too had first read from the Torah, standing before the twelve- paned windows, framed out by damask curtains his mother had taken months to sew. She'd been talented with her hands, a lovely woman, universally adored. He missed her. She died six years before Abiram, who'd now been gone three.

Time to end this.

He studied the gun, a pistol bought a few months before at an Orlando gun show.

He sat on the sofa.

Clouds of dust rose, then settled.

He recalled Abiram's lecture about the birds and the bees as he'd sat in the same spot. He'd been, what, twelve?

Thirty-three years ago.

But it seemed like last week.

As usual, the explanations had been rough and concise.

"Do you understand?" Abiram asked him. "It's important that you do."

"I don't like girls."

"You will. So don't forget what I said."

Women. Another failure. He'd had precious few relationships as a young man, marrying Michele, the first girl who'd shown serious interest in him. But the marriage ended after his firing, and there'd been no more women since the downfall. Michele had taken a toll on him, in more ways than just financially.

"Maybe I'll get to see her soon too," he muttered.

His ex-wife had died two years ago in a car crash.

That was last time he and his daughter spoke, her words loud and clear. Get out. She would not want you here.

And he'd left the funeral.

He stared again at the gun, his finger on the trigger. He steeled himself, grabbed a breath, and nestled the barrel to his temple. He was left handed, like nearly every Sagan. His uncle, a former-professional baseball player, had told him as a child that if he could learn to throw a curve ball he'd make a fortune in the major leagues. Talented left handers were rare. But he'd failed at sports, too.

He brought the barrel to his temple.

The metal touched his skin.

He closed his eyes and tightened his finger on the trigger, imagining how his obituary would start. Tuesday, March 5th, former investigative journalist, Tom Sagan, took his own life at his parents' home in Mount Dora, Florida.

A little more pressure and—

Rap. Rap. Rap.

He opened his eyes.

A man stood outside the front window, close enough to the panes for Tom to see the face—older than himself, clean-cut, distinguished—and the man's right hand.

Which held a photograph, pressed to the glass.

He focused on the image of a young woman lying down, arms and feet extended.

As if bound.

He knew the face.

His daughter.

Alle.


What do you think about this review?

Comments

No comments posted.

Registered users may leave comments.
Log in or register now!

 

 

 

 

Fresh Fiction contests

© 2003-2017 off-the-edge.net
all rights reserved

Google+ Google+