BENGALURU: What if the Federal Income Tax of America is illegal and every cent collected by the authorities as tax since Roosevelt’s time has to be returned? Well, this forms the background for yet another Cotton Malone series by Steve Berry. The Patriot Threat is the tenth in this series and exclusively deals with a particular amendment in the American Constitution about the issue of tax collection which may not have been ratified by all states.
It seems that there is complete evidence that the 16th Amendment was not ratified correctly, and the papers pertaining to it were stolen from the US Treasury Department’s vaults. Now in the hands of enemies, they may cause irreparable damage to the country and its economy. So steps in retired agent Cotton Malone and once again rises to the occasion to save Uncle Sam.
Full of action, thrills and adventure, Steve Berry has turned the boring subject of income tax into an interesting narrative with the help of Chinese spies, North Korean dictators and daredevil US agents. Like other Malone books, this too is racy and keeps you on the edge of your seat. However, the book with a marked right wing take has its usual dose of villains from countries with communist and dictator regimes and poor good old America trying to save itself.
The story begins in 1936 with a meeting between President Franklin Roosevelt and Andrew Mellon, the US Secretary of Treasury. There is no love lost between the two men. Mellon, who is dying from cancer, in fact, threatens the President and informs him that he has left his wealth in the form of a National Gallery for the country. He has also left a ‘private gift’ for Roosevelt. Now what this gift is and the clues he leaves behind in the form of a marked dollar bill and a hand written note for the TDR come to haunt present President Danny Daniels.
For those not aware of a few facts, the 16th Amendment to the Constitution is the reason Americans pay income taxes.
But what if there were problems associated with that amendment when it was sent for ratification to all states? Did a few states rebel against it and were a few states totally against it? What is the secret behind decades and decades of tax collection? Read this book, to know the surprising truth to this hidden possibility.
Cotton Malone, once a member of an elite intelligence division within the Justice Department known as the Magellan Billet, is now retired and owns an old bookshop in Denmark. But he gets back into business when his former boss, Stephanie Nelle, asks him to track a rogue North Korean (Kim, the discredited son of the late North Korean dictator) and his daughter Hana who may have acquired a few top secret papers from the Treasury Department files pertaining to the 16th amendment.
Malone and other agents including Isabella and Luke Daniels are sucked into a harrowing 24-hour chase that begins on the serene waterfront of Venice and meanders to the remote highlands of Croatia. Various agents from different departments are working at cross-purposes trying to retrieve the documents from Kim and Hana. The book describes North Korean labour camps and how Hana was rescued by her father even as she comes to know the reality behind the rescue act. With appearances by Franklin Roosevelt, Andrew Mellon, a curious painting that still hangs in the National Gallery of Art, and some eye-opening revelations via the $1 bill, The Patriot Threat is a non-stop adventure with both historical facts (a bit too much) and speculative suppositions that turn out to be as exciting as other Malone books.