The King's Deception by Steve Berry

Secret societies, british and american spies with hidden agendas, and a centuries old secret involving Henry VIII and Elizabeth I lie at the heart of The King’s Deception.  Cotton Malone is dragged unknowingly into a CIA plot to discover a secret the British government would prefer to remain secret.

This book is a lot of fun.  Part of the fun is the excellent historical detail which Steve Berry sprinkles into the story.  A generous helping of fact with some plausible speculation form the backdrop for an exciting thriller.  Cotton Malone is a great character.  He is clever, resourceful and, while not superhuman, still pretty good at handling himself in a sticky situation.  Elevating the tension here is that his son is in jeopardy, along with a british boy Malone was delivering to authorities in London.

The action moves along swiftly, aided by short passages shifting perspective among the many characters.  The backstory involving the british monarchy is perhaps the most interesting part.  The only drawback in this story was that the bad guys didn’t really seem to be all that much of a threat.  They were violent, ruthless, and arrogant, but not very competent.  Malone and others seemed credibly in danger much of the time.  They were so clearly superior to their adversaries, though,  that the threats didn’t seem all that scary.  That being said, Cotton and some of the other characters, particularly Miss Mary and her sister were very likeable.

This is a quick, fun book and a great summer read.  The historical backdrop was both informative and entertaining.  The theories behind Elizabeth I are perhaps the thing that will stick with me longest.  I look forward to reading more Cotton Malone thrillers.  Highly recommended.  3.5 stars.

I was fortunate to receive an advance copy of this book.

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