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[634] The King’s Deception – Steve Berry


Read and reviewed: Pattaya, Thailand

” Kathleen forgave Malone for his attitude. Who could blame him? He was in a quandary, the only way out possibly coming from a man who’d just tried to kill them both. This spy business was so different from her everyday experience. Things seemed to change by the minute, with no warning and little time to react. That part she actually liked. Still, it was frustrating not knowing who was on what side, and where she fit in. ” (Ch.56, p.367)

The King’s Deception concerns ex-agent Cotton Malone, who has a conversation with his ex-wife, Pam, concerning an event that took place in London two years previously involving their teenage son, Gary and himself. The dangerous and wild weekend where betrayals collide with current events and the deceptions of hundreds of years ago makes this book very riveting.

With his son on the way back to Copenhagen, where he owns a bookstore, Malone has agreed to escort a third party—Ian Dunne, a teenage fugitive from justice—back to London as a favor to his former boss in the Justice Department. The trio had barely deplaned in London when both Malone’s son and Ian are kidnapped. The man responsible is Blake Antrim, a CIA agent for whom the abduction has a dual purpose. The Scottish government has implausibly elected to release the Libyan terrorist who was tried and convicted of bombing Pan Am flight 103, over the vehement objections of the United States. The Scots will not be deterred from their course of action, and the British refuse to intervene. The U.S. is diplomatically stymied. Antrim, however, believes that a secret that has laid hidden for hundreds of years which, if revealed, could upend one of the most continuing contentious state of affairs in the world today: the English presence in Northern Ireland. The secret concerns the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, who completed the conquest of Ireland and seized a sizable portion of that country on behalf of England. Antrim’s CIA-sanctioned operation, coined The King’s Deception, could reveal secret that questions the legitimacy of the reign.

He’s been systematically stealing our national treasures. Delving into our secrets. Over the past forty-eight hours, he sanctioned the violation of Henry VIII’s tomb in St. George’s Chapel. He used percussion explosives to crack away the marble slab, then rummaged through royal remains. (Ch.46, p.312)

Dunne stole a secret that British government will stop at nothing to protect. The British MI6 therefore competes to uncover the mystery and contrives to stop the CIA. A secret society also would kill to defend and protect royal secrets. Bearing a personal grudge against Malone, Antrim would make a deal with the secret society at the expense of Malone’s life. With assassins, traitors, spies, and dangerous disciples of the secret society, Malone is forced into a race against time as he battles to decipher the puzzle encrypted in a coded journal—and strive to preserve the world order from a potentially catastrophic revelation.

Berry writes in a clipped style, revealing bits of details along the way to maintain the nail-biting suspense. The author’s strength is his ability to weave thrillers from historical events. He made two trips to England to research for the novel. The story is action-packed but complex, with twists and shifting alliances. The unfolding of the historical conspiracy requires some patience, seemingly eclipsed by the present conflicts.

450 pp. Hodder/Hachette UK. Pocket Paper. [Read|Skim|Toss] [Buy|Borrow]


2 Responses

  1. This looks dangerously close to an airplane book. Something good for vacation reading.

    • This one is by far the most entertaining and fastest book I read in Asia. It doesn’t have many twists that backfire the story, but has enough momentum to keep the pages turning.

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