I have reviewed a couple of the prior Cotton Malone books including #7 The Jefferson Key (click here) and #5 The Paris Vendetta (click here). This particular book grabbed my interest and really got me looking up historical details on my own. Check out what captured my attention in this book.
Copyright: June 2013 (Ballantine Books) 432 pgs
Series: 8th in Cotton Malone series
Sensuality: Suspense violence
Mystery Sub-genre: Suspense/Thriller
Main Character: Cotton Malone, former Dept. of Justice (Magellan Billet)
Setting: Modern day, London Britain
Obtained Through: Personal purchase
Cotton is doing a favor for his former boss at the the Justice Department by taking Ian, a petty thief, from Atlanta to London and turn him over to police custody. But that was never the full plan, a secret society named Daedulus wants Ian dead because he witnessed a murder. On the drive from the London airport, events take a menacing turn and Gary, Malone’s 15-year-old son who was returning to his Copenhagen bookshop, is briefly kidnapped. Cotton realizes he is in the middle of a much bigger plan and has to figure out what the agenda really is and who is involved to save his son, Ian, and himself. He never expected an international operation code named King’s Deception engineered to leverage secrets about Tudor Queen Elizabeth I to prevent the release of a terrorist. Meanwhile the Daedulus Society is hell bent to prevent those secrets from being proven or used. The story makes a case for history being important, so that even events nearly 500 years ago can seriously impact a nation today by utilizing the true historical characters of Elizabeth I and her most trusted advisers William Cecil and son Robert Cecil and the mystery of Henry VIII's rumored lost treasure.
Cotton Malone is dealing with family drama with his ex-wife Pam and his son Gary (which precipitates Gary coming to Copenhagen to stay with Cotton for a while). How he deals with this stress in addition to being thrown in the middle of a dangerous plot says a lot about him. Gary Malone is a fifteen year-old pawn being manipulated who struggles to understand the forces at work around him. Kathleen Richards of the Serious Organized Crime Agency (SOCA) is much like Cotton, and thus in trouble with her superiors, when the British MI5 and Daedulus Society bring her into the mix mistakenly thinking she can be herded and used. Blake Antrim, the CIA operative in charge of King’s Deception, is a master manipulator who doesn't blink at killing and specially requested Cotton bring young Ian to London and thus both into his cross-hairs. Thomas Matthews is Britain's chief spy who is working to keep England's interests safe and secrets still secret. Ian Dunne is a young pickpocket who picked the wrong pocket and ends up with a memory stick seconds before the man is killed. Ian is streetwise and has a highly developed self preservation instinct that kicks in to keep both himself and Gary alive. Adult twins Tanya and Miss Mary and the breakout stars of this tale, bringing history to life with enthusiasm and shrewd insight. I have to give kudos on the well portrayed women characters of Kathleen Richards, Tanya, and Miss Mary who were smart and capable in their own rights. Suspense and thriller novels can falter in this area, but not in this fine example.
London and its historical sights are utilized for not only their historical significance, which is part of the plot, but also for their atmosphere and connections to centuries of intrigue. London's underground rivers with old bridges and long forgotten rooms was an ideal location for the climax. The underground rivers of London are the tributaries of the River Thames and were built over during the city's growth. The River Fleet, which in one place is now 40 feet below street level, is the largest of London's subterranean rivers and the section near Blackfriars station is featured in this novel. This added an extra sense of danger to those scenes.
The logic in the plot has some holes, but that was in hind-sight as I thought back, so it didn't distract at the time. I have taken that into account, but it still makes for a solid novel with the other elements making up for those logic problems. Without giving away much, the idea of using a politically explosive revelation, albeit nearly 500 years old, that would have actual dire consequences today was fascinating, and I thought was presented and argued well- making it quite possible. The author's notes at the end of the book and the copies of paintings throughout helped bring the past and the suspicions vibrantly to life.
The climax was set up well and brought four different aspects together for a tense showdown where the many deceptions are unveiled. Tough decisions must be made and the truth of each character's true self is revealed. I have to admit it was well done.
In the span of roughly forty hours, the reader races along with assassins, traitors, spies, and deadly members of a secret society with explosives, kidnapping, and a blend of history with international intrigue for a riveting ride.
Rating: Excellent - Loved it! Buy it now and if you haven't read any of this series before, put this author on your watch list.
Steve Berry and his wife started History Matters (click here) to assist communities around the world with historic restoration and preservation because they believe history matters.
Here is a book trailer for this book - enjoy!