Review: The King’s Deception

Posted 3 June, 2013 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

The King’s Deception
By: Steve Berry
Format/Source: Advanced reading copy courtesy of the publisher via Netgalley

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.

Blake Antrim, the CIA operative in charge of King’s Deception, is hunting for the spark that could rekindle a most dangerous fire, the one thing that every Irish national has sought for generations: a legal reason why the English must leave Northern Ireland. The answer is a long-buried secret that calls into question the legitimacy of the entire forty-five-year reign of Elizabeth I, the last Tudor monarch, who completed the conquest of Ireland and seized much of its land. But Antrim also has a more personal agenda, a twisted game of revenge in which Gary is a pawn. With assassins, traitors, spies, and dangerous disciples of a secret society closing in, Malone is caught in a lethal bind. To save Gary he must play one treacherous player against another—and only by uncovering the incredible truth can he hope to prevent the shattering consequences of the King’s Deception.

It’s been a while since I’ve read a Steve Berry book. The title of this Cotton Malone series (and the cover) immediately caught my attention as, if I recall correctly, he hasn’t had an adventure using British history yet and British history remains a love of mine (even as I went on to specialise in Russian history…but I digress). This book will be available on June 11. May contain some minor spoilers!

Though it’s been a while since I’ve read this series, it was very easy to pick up and follow this book; the reader doesn’t need to have read all of the previous books to know what’s happening. What’s especially different about this novel (at least compared to the previous Cotton Malone novels that I read) is that the story is told in a flashback as opposed to it unfolding in “real time” for the characters, which is a nice change of presentation.

The story is pretty straight-forward filled with close calls and not-quite-sure-what-side-you’re-on-characters. The first quarter of the book, despite of the fact that the action takes off pretty much from the second chapter, moved a little sluggishly. It took a while for the Tudor mystery to form and crystallise; the revelations are surprising and something I haven’t quite read in any other mystery. The pace of the story does quicken for the remaining three-fourths of the novel and becomes quite a page-turner.

Character-wise there’s not a whole lot of new revelations or depths with the familiar characters. This novel does delve more into Malone family matters than in previous books and while it does bring the characters of Cotton and Gary to new levels of drama and tension, I never quite connected with it on an emotional level. I did enjoy the introduction of secondary characters like Kathleen Richards and Ian Dunne. And Blake Antrim has to be the most vilest villain that’s ever crossed any of Steve Berry’s books.

Overall, The King’s Deception was an interesting read. The structure to Steve Berry’s novels are becoming quite formulaic and the writing can be a little too simplistic (it helps when there’s a lot of action in a scene but other times I was feeling a little nit-picky & awkward about the incomplete sentences and fragments). However the mystery and use of the London scene was interesting enough to keep me going and one can always rely on Cotton Malone to solve the issue at hand. This novel is worth checking out if you’re into the genre or are a fan of Steve Berry’s.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

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