Fans of Steve Berry and the popular Cotton Malone books won’t be disappointed in The King’s Deception, a novel of families, deceit, and revenge that ricochets between present-day London and Elizabethan England. The action kicks off with the imminent release of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, the Libyan intelligence officer convicted in the Pan Am Flight 103 bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland. America protests, but the British government and Scottish prison officials stand firm. Enter the CIA, whose plan to stop the release has roots stretching back to the reign of King Henry the Eighth.
While escorting Ian Dunne, a 15-year-old runaway, back to London as a favor to his former boss, Malone and his son Gary get tangled up in the intrigue. Someone wants the flash drive Ian has stolen and is willing to kill for it. Convinced by Gary to trust Malone, Ian takes them to his hiding place. What is so important in the encrypted files? How many groups are willing to fight to get it back? To force the return of the flash drive Gary is kidnapped and, in his attempt to rescue his only son, Malone takes on the CIA, the Metropolitan Police, and the Serious Organized Crime Agency (England’s FBI). With the help of feisty Kathleen Richards, a suspended SOCA officer, they race from the quiet of St. Paul’s Cathedral to the frenzy of Piccadilly Square. Giving advice is CIA agent in charge Blake Antrim, who may not be what he seems. Thwarting them at every turn is the secretive Daedalus Society whose duty is “Domine, salvam fac Regnam,” which translated means, “Oh Lord, keep the queen safe.” What queen they serve is part of the mystery.
The author plunges the reader back to the royal court of the Tudors through historical letters realistically woven into the plot. We learn of Henry the Eighth’s mistresses, his illegitimate children, and the fury mixed with fear so many well-born families felt toward the king and his bloody reign. From copies of these ancient documents Malone discovers a fantastical story that could bring down the British government and create chaos throughout the United Kingdom. The documents also hint of a vast treasure hidden hundreds of years ago by the last of the Tudors. As they travel from London to Windsor Castle to the university town of Oxford, Berry gives the reader picture-perfect descriptions of the famous sights and infamous back alleys of England. The theme of birth, deception, and family binds all the divergent stories together to finish in an explosive ending. This is the eighth Cotton Malone novel, but each is crafted to be enjoyed on its own. If you haven’t read Steve Berry yet, this would be a delicious book to start with.