by Steve Berry
Release Date: June 11, 2013
2013 Ballantine Books
Genre: Fiction / Suspense
Source: Review copy from publisher
4 / 5 Stars
Cotton Malone and his fifteen-year-old son, Gary, are headed to Europe. As a favor to his former boss at the Justice Department, Malone agrees to escort a teenage fugitive back to England. But after he is greeted at gunpoint in London, both the fugitive and Gary disappear, and Malone learns that he’s stumbled into a high-stakes diplomatic showdown—an international incident fueled by geopolitical gamesmanship and shocking Tudor secrets.
At its heart is the Libyan terrorist convicted of bombing Pan Am Flight 103, who is set to be released by Scottish authorities for “humanitarian reasons.” An outraged American government objects, but nothing can persuade the British to intervene.
Except, perhaps, Operation King’s Deception.
Run by the CIA, the operation aims to solve a centuries-old mystery, one that could rock Great Britain to its royal foundations.
The King's Deception is the eighth book in the Cotton Malone series, but is slightly different than the other ones as it goes back two years in Malone's life as he relates an incident to his ex-wife Pam that he was afraid to tell her before. I am a huge fan of the Cotton Malone series, and although this one wasn't as good as some of his earlier efforts, the author's ability to take historical facts and twist them to fit his needs is one of the reasons why I keep coming back to this series.
What I liked: As always, the historical facts and the twists that Steve Berry can add to established historical facts is amazing. This one was no different, and I definitely saw Elizabeth Tudor in a whole different light, including her actions and her personal beliefs and superstitions. What I ended up doing was reading quickly through the modern day events so I could get to the historical events as I found them quite interested and really wasn't given enough for the allegations that were put forward in this novel. I thought the concept was quite fascinating and it would certainly turn the whole modern English world over on its collective head, so to speak. I couldn't even imagine the consequences if such an event were true, and it's actually kind of scary. If you've read the book, then you know what I am talking about, if you haven't, I don't want to give away too many spoilers, so it makes this review kind of difficult to write. It doesn't hurt that I am fascinated with anything Tudor, and seem to be going through a Tudor mania phase at the moment.
I liked the secondary storyline that dealt with Malone's son Gary, and the question of his true parentage. If you've other Malone books, you will already know some of this, but it was nice to read how it actually came about, which I suspect is why Berry chose to write this novel in the first place. Too many fans wanting to know the truth? I also enjoyed the interactions between a lot of the new characters and the gentle humour that was more evident in this novel than in previous ones. I really hope to see the twins again in future novels as I enjoyed their wit and their ability to handle crisis situations.
What I wasn't sure about: Steve Berry is known for his convoluted plots and the fact that no one can be trusted, including his so-called friends. This one didn't seem to have that edge, that suspense, that I am used to feeling in one of his novels. The novel felt more like it was for Gary and his friend Iain than espionage and suspense and you could feel it in the pages, especially if you've read all of the other novels and know what to expect in a Steve Berry novel. It's not that I didn't enjoy it, it just seemed different and slower.
The King's Deception provided an interesting twist to the many legends and myths surrounding Queen Elizabeth I, and I enjoyed reading all of the historical twists and turns that were given to support the new ideas. It's something that had never occurred to me and it was quite fun to think about how this would have affected Elizabethan England at the time, and definitely how it would have consequences on our modern world. I thought the plot was slower and less suspenseful than in previous novels, but as a whole it works and was fun to read. As always, I am looking forward to what Steve Berry has in store for us next.