Featured Review: ‘The Bishop’s Pawn’ by Steve Berry

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The Bishop's Pawn

Some readers may not know about the ugly feud between J. Edgar Hoover and Martin Luther King, Jr. Those who do probably believe that the feud ended on April 4, 1968, when James Earl Ray shot and killed King in Memphis. . . but, as Steve Berry points out in his latest thriller, that might not be the case after all. 

Fifty years after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., Cotton Malone, an agent with a secret unit buried deep inside the Justice Department, re-examines what really happened to King and why.

It all starts when Malone gets a letter in the present day from someone who refers to his very first case with the Justice Department, instructing him to bring “them” to the sender. Then “them” in this case happens to be classified documents that Cotton first learned about almost two decades prior.

Eighteen years ago, Justice Department attorney Stephanie Nelle hired Malone, then a hotshot young Navy lawyer, to carry out a mission near the Florida coast. She feeds him a story about a waterproof case containing very rare coins that are worth millions of dollars onboard a sunken boat and instructs him to retrieve the case as quickly as possible. Malone accepts and heads out, unaware that he hasn’t been told the whole story.

It doesn’t take long for Cotton to inadvertently find himself caught between the Justice Department and the FBI, who are both racing to obtain the case, which on top of containing a rare coin, also holds secret documents about King’s assassination. 

Though this is actually the thirteenth book in Berry’s series, it’s the perfect starting point for newcomers because it ends up being an origin story of sorts for Cotton Malone. It’s also the first novel Steve Berry’s ever written in the first-person narrative, giving readers an inside look into Malone’s way of thinking, something longtime fans will surely enjoy. Even those who don’t typically like reading first-person narrative stories should have fun plowing through The Bishop’s Pawn, which is fast-paced and full of surprises. Berry’s writing style is terrific, and whereas a lot of first-person books are full of mostly dialogue, that’s not the case here.

As always, Berry manages to educate readers while also entertaining them. He’s one of the few authors (along with Brad Meltzer) who routinely manages to churn out smart thrillers that examine history through a new lens. The feud between Hoover and Martin was ugly, even more so than most imagined. Throughout the plot, clues about the ending are visible to those paying close attention. Even so, the final reveal will surprise many as Steve Berry offers a bold and provocative new theory about why Martin Luther King, Jr. was killed fifty years ago.

Coming off his hit 2017 novel The Lost Order, Steve Berry is back with another timely thriller that examines what we really know about the civil rights movement’s greatest martyr. . . The Bishop’s Pawn is well-written, daring, and packed full of everything Berry’s fans have come to expect from one of his novels.

Book Details

Author: Steve Berry
Series: Cotton Malone #13
Pages: 352 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 1250140226
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Release Date: March 20, 2018
Book Spy Rating: 7.5/10

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Me media kitPraised as “one of today’s finest book reviewers” by New York Times bestselling author Gayle Lynds, Ryan Steck has “quickly established himself as the authority on mysteries and thrillers” (Author A.J. Tata). He currently lives in Southwest Michigan with his wife and their six children.

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