The last kingdom

Steve Berry, 1955-

Book - 2023

In a race across Bavaria for clues hidden in King Ludwig II's three castles, Cotton Malone and Luke Daniels battle a growing list of deadly adversaries, all intent on finding the last kingdom.

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Thrillers (Fiction)
Suspense fiction
Historical fiction
New York : Grand Central Publishing 2023.
Main Author
Steve Berry, 1955- (author)
First Edition
Physical Description
viii, 451 pages ; 24 cm
Contents unavailable.
Review by Booklist Review

After a break to write a novel about UNESCO investigator Nicholas Lee (The Omega Factor, 2022), Berry returns to his moneymaker, former U.S. Justice Department operative Cotton Malone. The seventeenth book in the series delivers--this should come as no great surprise to Berry's fans--a thrilling adventure. An obscure document from the nineteenth century is the central element in a battle between superpowers over control of a parcel of land in the German state of Bavaria; Malone winds up in the middle of things and has to call on his abundant cleverness to find a way out. When readers crack open a new Malone adventure, it's like reuniting with an old friend. You know the guy: how he thinks, what really ticks him off, what he might do in a certain type of situation. At the same time, he has an unpredictable streak that keeps readers on their toes; there's always an element of surprise in a Cotton Malone novel, always something we don't see coming. Another strong entry in a consistently fine series.

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

In bestseller Berry's high-octane 17th novel featuring Cotton Malone (after 2021's The Kaiser's Web), Malone, a former intelligence officer who worked 12 years with the Magellan Billet, a covert Justice Department unit, and is now living in Denmark, where he owns and operates a rare book shop, comes out of retirement to assist his protégé, Luke Daniels. Daniels has infiltrated a group bent "on doing some bad things to the U.S." that is linked to Bavarian prince Stefan von Bayern. The prince wants Malone and Daniels to visit Bavaria's Herrenchiemsee Palace, built by Ludwig II, the notorious mad king, to search for a valuable document. The document is connected with Ludwig's desire to realize his enigmatic dream of acquiring "the last kingdom"--and to his mysterious death in 1886, supposedly by accidental drowning. Malone soon finds himself shot at and drawn into aiding Daniels further. The reveal of this mysterious document's true nature will work best for series fans accustomed to suspending disbelief. Those looking for a fun page-turner with historical elements will be satisfied. Agent: Agent: Simon Lipskar, Writers House. (Feb.)

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Review by Library Journal Review

Berry once again proves that history matters, skillfully crafting a fictional story around historical truths in this 17th Cotton Malone novel (following The Kaiser's Web). This time the Justice Department agent--turned--antiquarian book dealer is searching for clues from 1886, the year when King Ludwig II of Bavaria was deposed. Eccentric almost to the point of madness, Ludwig searched for another kingdom to rule as he hid from the world, dying mysteriously shortly thereafter. Now the CIA, Germany, China, and a rogue band of ex-spies all hunt for the missing documents that could prove whether Ludwig found another country to rule before his death. Malone joins the hunt to determine if another monarch deeded Ludwig some land for his new empire. From clandestine meetings to code-crunching cipher wheels to secret compartments in antique desks that conceal what might be the "keys to the kingdom," Malone and his protégé Luke must solve King Ludwig's puzzle and reckon with the truth's implications for global power dynamics. VERDICT Berry is like a fine-tuned machine, melding historical fact and authentic locales within a complex fictional storyline. History enthusiasts will relish the intricate research behind the spy-versus-spy thriller, which challenges readers to consider historical what-ifs.--K.L. Romo

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Review by Kirkus Book Review

Will mad King Ludwig II of Bavaria wreak havoc on the new world order from beyond his 137-year-old grave? Not if Cotton Malone has anything to say about it. Malone, who retired from the Magellan Billet of the U.S. intelligence service after 12 years to open a bookstore in Copenhagen, still takes the odd freelance job with the CIA, and this one is a doozy. Derrick Koger, CIA chief of special operations, wants to recover a missing book and a document Ludwig set great store by. So do a number of other players: Prince Stefan von Bayern and his brother, Albert Wittelsbach, Duke of Bavaria, relatives who might plausibly claim to be the materials' rightful owners; Marc Fenn, grand master of the Guglmänner (think secessionist KKK Bavarians); ex--CIA killer Jason Rife, founder of a fearsome organization called the Scythe; and inevitably the consulate general of China. Readers agile enough to pick their way through the historical tidbits and action sequences veteran Berry crams into every chapter will eventually discover, along with Malone, that Ludwig had his eye on a prime piece of real estate well outside his borders that's become exponentially more valuable for the raw materials an extended this-much-is-true endnote observes are actually there. Ad hoc alliances are forged and broken, double crosses drive up the body count, inventive, overcaffeinated set pieces are teed up at a breakneck pace, and two different secret codes will keep puzzle solvers busy as Malone does his level best to disprove his own hard-won wisdom: "Hotshots never survived long." About what you'd expect if James Bond were an American who consulted with the CIA. Bring it on. Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.