With a new president in office and the future of the Magellan Billet still somewhat in doubt, Cotton Malone accepts what is supposed to be an easy job from the Smithsonian that turns out to be anything but.
Leaving his bookstore in Denmark, Malone, the former operator for the justice department’s top-secret intelligence agency, heads to Arkansas with Cassiopeia Vitt, his lover and fellow Magellan Billet agent. Together they were dispatched to investigate at a location where another Smithsonian employee had been searching for treasure before being scared off by a local man named Terry Morse.
On-site, Cotton does, indeed, find a few gold coins before coming face-to-face with Morse who, along with his granddaughter, Lea, has been protecting the land and its hidden treasure for decades.
Cotton learns that the treasure belonged to the Knights of the Golden Circle, a Confederate spy ring that was assembled before the Civil War. And while the Knights were thought to no longer be in existence, Morse claims the Order is alive and well, though significantly smaller in numbers than in its original heyday.
Morse, who only spills the secrets to stay out of jail, claims to be a sentinel–charged with protecting a portion of the $100 billion in gold and silver the Knights had assembled–just like his father, and his grandfather, and many others before him.
Cotton knows plenty about the Knights of the Golden Circle himself, having heard stories about the Order from his father when he was a child. But as he continues to learn more about parties involved, he’s not entirely sure who he can trust, as everyone seems to have a separate agenda and an unwillingness to tell him the truth.
Meanwhile, Stephanie Nelle, the Magellan Billet’s acting chief, is called in to investigate after the Smithsonian is broken into. It doesn’t take long for her to realize that both she and Cotton are after the same people–who are trying to find the Knights’ long lost gold by following a treasure map that’s broken into five parts, some of which are hidden in plain sight.
While Malone and Nelle each chase their own leads, former president Danny Daniels mourns the loss of his close friend Alex Sherwood, a sitting Tennessee senator who died under suspicious circumstances. Sherwood’s widow, Diane, gives Danny reason to suspect something foul is going on, prompting him to investigate on his own.
Daniels ends up uncovering a huge government conspiracy (one that his friend may have died to help expose) that involves a plan to exploit Article I of the United States Constitution, which would give the Speaker of the House more power than the president. Unfortunately, aside from the notoriety that comes with being a former president, Daniels no longer has any real power to do anything about what he’s learned.
To get back into the game, Danny comes up with a genius way to go from ordinary citizen to someone of importance, then vows to stop Speaker Lucius Vance and Diane Sherwood from pulling off their plan.
For longtime fans concerned that Daniels’ role will be diminished now that he’s no longer the president, you don’t have to worry about that. While Cotton Malone remains the star of the series, Daniels has a large role in this one and he steals every scene he’s in. Plus, the way in which the author makes Danny relevant again is nothing short of brilliant.
On top of showing readers a new side to Danny, who is reenergized by his latest political fight, Steve Berry also finally reveals the origin of Cotton’s nickname, something longtime fans of his series have wondered about for years. (Hint: it’s a two-part answer!)
With multiple high-tension plot threads playing out, one of which turns deeply personal for Cotton, all the characters’ paths eventually cross as they work together to solve century-old clues in order to stop a secret shadow government and a murderous couple hellbent on finding the Knights’ lost treasure.
Steve Berry masterfully weaves historical fiction into a present day high-concept plot that moves at breakneck speeds from beginning to end. While last year’s The 14th Colony was good, The Lost Order, which falls somewhere between Three Days to the Condor and National Treasure, is Berry’s best work yet–and is sure to compete for best novel of the year.
With nonstop action and a story packed full of conspiracies, assassins, power-hungry politicians, murder, and lost treasure, the latest Cotton Malone thriller is impossible to put down!
Author: Steve Berry
Series: Cotton Malone #12
Pages: 512 (Hardcover)
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Release Date: April 4, 2017 (Order Now!)