The Omega Factor by Steve Berry: 5*****

The Omega Factor will be Steve Berry’s next best-selling book! This should come as no surprise to his multitude of fans and followers. Berry is one of our leading action adventure authors and is able to easily blend history with a highly plausible fictionalized plot. Berry’s newest book is a standalone novel, and even though we have enjoyed his Cotton Malone series, it is nice to have a standalone novel every now and then. In this book he introduces us to a new character, Nick Lee, a UNESCO worker who deals with preservation of arts and architecture.

Lee is on a vacation to meet with his ex-fiancé in Belgium. She is an art restoration specialist and at this time she is working on the final bits of restoration for the  12th panel of the Ghent Altarpiece. This is a masterpiece by Jan van Eyck and is probably one of the most stolen pieces of art in history. This 12th panel went missing back in 1934 and has only now been recovered and will be restored to its original splendor. Unfortunately when Nick arrives the art studio is in flames and the painting has been burned to a crisp. The only images that remain of the restored painting were on a stolen computer and Nick quickly jumps into the fray to retrieve that computer.

As with all of Berry’s books, they are filled with almost 80% historical accuracy and 20% fictionalized plot. This book is no different and it’s that blend which makes him one of the best writers of this genre. He extensively researches his subjects and then writes an extremely plausible story, one that is easy to read, hard to put down, and teaches us a lot. Here we not only had the Ghent Altarpiece, but we have the Inquisition, the Cathars, a mysterious order of nuns, the Catholic Church, the story of the Virgin Mary and the Marion legend. It sounds like a lot, and it is, but that’s what makes Berry’s books so good. He is able to take all these different bits of history, and blend everything into a highly believable book.

There is a lot to like in this book, not the least being his new lead character, Nick Lee, and even Barry admits that Lee may very well be showing up in more of his books in the future. I love art. Books about art, art history and art thefts are some of my favorite books to read. All of this is blended into the Omega Factor. You can see why Berry might very well begin a new series featuring Lee and his work with UNESCO. There are fascinating stories behind so many pieces of art and this is a good way him to introduce us to new stories based on lost or stolen art.

As with all of his books, they are a fast read and ones you don’t want to put down until the very end. This book contains 75 short and concise chapters with the action moving back and forth throughout Europe as we follow multiple characters until all is resolved in a very satisfying conclusion. And, as with all his books, he includes a detailed Author’s Note at the end where he tells what portions of the book are historical and what other parts are fiction. Berry has stated that he has a new book coming out next year and I’m sure that also will be a bestseller. The man has hit upon a style that his fans find contagious, and if you have never read any of his books then this might be one to try. As with all of his works, I just shake my head as I am dazzled at his ability to draw me into his plots with history and amazing characters and that’s what makes him one of my favorite authors, and one whose works always top the Best Seller lists!

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