Thursday, September 15, 2016

Review: The Patriot Threat by Steve Berry

In an innovative new approach, Macmillan Audio and Steve Berry have produced an expanded, annotated writer's cut audiobook edition of The Patriot Threat.

The 16th Amendment to the Constitution legalized federal income tax, but what if there were problems with the 1913 ratification of that amendment? Secrets that call in to question decades of tax collecting. There is a surprising truth to this possibility-a truth wholly entertained by Steve Berry, a top-ten New York Times best-selling writer, in his new thriller, The Patriot Threat.

His protagonist, Cotton Malone, once a member of an elite intelligence division within the Justice Department known as the Magellan Billet, is now retired. But when his former boss, Stephanie Nelle, asks him to track a rogue North Korean who may have acquired some top secret Treasury Department files - the kind that could force the United States to its knees - Malone is vaulted into a harrowing 24-hour chase that begins on the water in Venice and ends in the remote highlands of Croatia.

With appearances by Franklin Roosevelt, Andrew Mellon, and a curious painting that still hangs in the National Gallery of Art, Steve Berry's trademark mix of history and suspense is 90 percent fact and 10 percent exciting speculation, a provocative thriller that poses a dangerous question: What if the federal income tax is illegal?

From the library.

As soon as a new Steve Berry audiobook becomes available at my library I immediately add it to my requests so I can listen to it as soon as possible so I was quite excited to pick this up during my weekly visit.

While I enjoy the books I prefer to listen to them as audiobooks since Scott Brick does such an amazing job with his performance and this was no different.  Cotton, President Daniels, and Stephanie Nelle just aren't the same without his voice bringing them to life.

While I don't love Cotton as a person his adventures are always entertaining and I actually found this one more entertaining since it didn't feature his rather annoying girlfriend Cassiopeia Vitt *spoiler alert* whom he broke up with in the last novel.  There was a much more relaxed feel to this book and the story focused much more on the adventure without the distracting side story of their love affair, both of which made the book infinitely better than previous installments in the series.

The mystery itself was genuinely fascinating.  I'm sure no one would be at all surprised to discover that our government outright lied to us for almost a hundred years about how they are illegally taxing us.  While earlier volumes focused on issues that didn't directly affect most readers taxes sadly affect everyone and, as such, the discussion of their potential illegality was quite intriguing and, frankly, frustrating.  It was especially disheartening to discover that the original tax documents only called for the rich to be taxed and that the poor (who can least afford the weight of a tax burden) were not supposed to be taxed at all.  So, according to the original documentation 99% of us should not be being taxed at all, let alone at the crippling current rates.

The second half of the mystery regarding the (again) criminal actions of the blatant refusal to honor the nation's debts to Haym Salomon and his descendants was all too easily believable as well.  Sadly, the fact that readers can immediately go along with the fact that our government willfully mistreated such an amazing and generous human being and allowed him to die in poverty with not so much as a thank you (let alone repayment of even a portion of what he was owed) should be disturbing but it isn't.  It just disgusts me that a nation whose freedom was facilitated by generous loans from Solomon ignored, and continues to ignore, this debt.  The Founding Fathers slipped several notches in my regard after reading about their frankly criminal, let alone immoral and inhumane, actions regarding Solomon.

Overall, while this was quite interesting and the performance was excellent, it left me depressed and disheartened after finishing it.  It's just further confirmation that our government is corrupt to the core and has been since the country was founded.  I'm frankly a little less proud to be an American after reading it, since I now know how the government treated the people who gave it the tools to make it the great nation is is today.  The Machiavellian nature of the Founding Fathers is despicable.  This is a very, very good read and I certainly recommend it, but you should also prepare yourself to lose a large chunk of faith in your country by the time you finish it.

★★★★ = Really Liked It


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