The King’s Deception is author Steve Berry’s eighth book in the popular Cotton Malone series - but, even if you are still unfamiliar with the series, don’t let that number keep you from jumping right into it with this title. As I have discovered, only having read books seven and eight myself, Berry includes enough of the essentials of Cotton’s backstory in each novel that new readers are soon up-to-speed on the central character’s personal history. Then, it’s only a matter of holding on tight for the wild ride ahead.
This time around, Cotton and Gary (his fifteen year-old son by a recently broken marriage) are headed to Cotton’s Danish home to spend a little healing time together. But, as a special favor to his former Justice Department boss, Cotton agrees to deliver a teenage runaway to authorities in London before continuing on to Denmark with his son. The man should know better, however, because nothing in his life is ever that simple - and it never has been.
In a matter of hours, Cotton, Gary, and the British fugitive are all on the run for their lives because Cotton has stumbled into a major diplomatic clash between the secret services of the United States and Great Britain. More than hurt feelings between the two countries are at stake; people are dying on both sides – and Cotton has to figure it all out quickly if the Malones and the British boy are not to join the list of the dearly departed. But whom can he trust? Nothing is as it seems, and even some of the “good guys” are willing to change teams when one least expects them to do so.
The King’s Deception is a very good political thriller but what gives it its special edge is the real-life historical rumor about the reign of Queen Elizabeth I that is central to the book’s plot. That said, I am not going to reveal what that rumor is because the novel’s official description (as it appears on the book jacket) does not go that far even though details became an open secret among avid readers even before the book was published. What I’m going to do, instead, is add a link to a Steve Berry appearance on an MSNBC talk show in which the author reveals all. After I viewed the interview, I knew I had to read The King’s Deception – and knowing the “secret” before beginning the book did nothing to lessen my enjoyment of Berry’s story. But you can decide for yourself.
Bottom Line: The King’s Deception is a first rate thriller that will be particularly enjoyed by history buffs – especially those at least somewhat familiar with the long reign of Queen Elizabeth I.
(Review Copy provided by Publisher)