The ancient order of the Knights Templar possessed untold wealth and absolute power over kings and popes—until the Inquisition, when they were wiped from the face of the earth, their hidden riches lost. But now two forces vying for the treasure have learned that it is not at all what they thought it was–and its true nature could change the modern world.
Cotton Malone, one-time top operative for the U.S. Justice Department, is enjoying his quiet new life as an antiquarian book dealer in Copenhagen when an unexpected call to action reawakens his hair-trigger instincts–and plunges him back into the cloak-and-dagger world he thought he’d left behind.
It begins with a violent robbery attempt on Cotton’s former supervisor, Stephanie Nelle, who’s far from home on a mission that has nothing to do with national security. Armed with vital clues to a series of centuries-old puzzles scattered across Europe, she means to crack a mystery that has tantalized scholars and fortune-hunters through the ages by finding the legendary cache of wealth and forbidden knowledge thought to have been lost forever when the order of the Knights Templar was exterminated in the fourteenth century. But she’s not alone. Competing for the historic prize–and desperate for the crucial information Stephanie possesses–is Raymond de Roquefort, a shadowy zealot with an army of assassins at his command.
Welcome or not, Cotton seeks to even the odds in the perilous race. But the more he learns about the ancient conspiracy surrounding the Knights Templar, the more he realizes that even more than lives are at stake. At the end of a lethal game of conquest, rife with intrigue, treachery, and craven lust for power, lies a shattering discovery that could rock the civilized world–and, in the wrong hands, bring it to its knees.
Cotton Malone retired from the high-risk world of elite operatives for the U.S. Justice Department to lead the low-key life of a rare-book dealer. But his quiet existence is shattered when he receives an anonymous e-mail: “You have something I want. You’re the only person on earth who knows where to find it. Go get it. You have 72 hours. If I don’t hear from you, you will be childless.” His horrified ex-wife confirms that the threat is real: Their teenage son has been kidnapped. When Malone’s Copenhagen bookshop is burned to the ground, it becomes brutally clear that those responsible will stop at nothing to get what they want. And what they want is nothing less than the lost Library of Alexandria.
A cradle of ideas–historical, philosophical, literary, scientific, and religious–the Library of Alexandria was unparalleled in the world. But fifteen hundred years ago, it vanished into the mists of myth and legend–its vast bounty of wisdom coveted ever since by scholars, fortune hunters, and those who believe its untold secrets hold the key to ultimate power.
Now a cartel of wealthy international moguls, bent on altering the course of history, is desperate to breach the library’s hallowed halls–and only Malone possesses the information they need to succeed. At stake is an explosive ancient document with the potential not only to change the destiny of the Middle East but to shake the world’s three major religions to their very foundations.
Pursued by a lethal mercenary, Malone crosses the globe in search of answers. His quest will lead him to England and Portugal, even to the highest levels of American government–and the shattering outcome, deep in the Sinai desert, will have worldwide repercussions.
In 323 B.C.E, having conquered Persia, Alexander the Great set his sights on Arabia, then suddenly succumbed to a strange fever. Locating his final resting place-unknown to this day-remains a tantalizing goal for both archaeologists and treasure hunters. Now the quest for this coveted prize is about to heat up. And Cotton Malone-former U.S. Justice Department agent turned rare-book dealer-will be drawn into an intense geopolitical chess game.
After narrowly escaping incineration in a devastating fire that consumes a Danish museum, Cotton learns from his friend, the beguiling adventurer Cassiopeia Vitt, that the blaze was neither an accident nor an isolated incident. As part of campaign of arson intended to mask a far more diabolical design, buildings across Europe are being devoured by infernos of unnatural strength.
And from the ashes of the U.S.S.R., a new nation has arisen: Former Soviet republics have consolidated into the Central Asian Federation. At its helm is Supreme Minister Irina Zovastina, a cunning despot with a talent for politics, a taste for blood sport, and the single-minded desire to surpass Alexander the Great as history's ultimate conqueror.
Backed by a secret cabal of powerbrokers, the Federation has amassed a harrowing arsenal of biological weapons. Equipped with the hellish power to decimate other nations at will, only one thing keeps Zovastina from setting in motion her death march of domination: a miraculous healing serum, kept secret by an ancient puzzle and buried with the mummified remains of Alexander the Great-in a tomb lost to the ages for more than 1,500 years.
Together, Cotton and Cassiopeia must outrun and outthink the forces allied against them. Their perilous quest will take them to the shores of Denmark, deep into the venerated monuments of Venice, and finally high inside the desolate Pamir mountains of Central Asia to unravel a riddle whose solution could destroy or save millions of people-depending on who finds the lost tomb first.
As a child, former Justice Department agent Cotton Malone was told his father died in a submarine disaster in the North Atlantic, but now he wants the full story and asks his ex-boss, Stephanie Nelle, to secure the military files. What he learns stuns him: His father’s sub was a secret nuclear vessel lost on a highly classified mission beneath the ice shelves of Antarctica.
But Malone isn’t the only one after the truth.
Twin sisters Dorothea Lindauer and Christl Falk are fighting for the fortune their mother has promised to whichever of them discovers what really became of their father–who died on the same submarine that Malone’s father captained.
The sisters know something Malone doesn’t: Inspired by strange clues discovered in Charlemagne’s tomb, the Nazis explored Antarctica before the Americans, as long ago as 1938. Now Malone discovers that cryptic journals penned in “the language of heaven,” inscrutable conundrums posed by an ancient historian, and the ill-fated voyage of his father are all tied to a revelation of immense consequence for humankind.
In an effort to ensure that this explosive information never rises to the surface, Langford Ramsey, an ambitious navy admiral, has begun a brutal game of treachery, blackmail, and assassination. As Malone embarks on a dangerous quest with the sisters–one that leads them from an ancient German cathedral to a snowy French citadel to the unforgiving ice of Antarctica–he will finally confront the shocking truth of his father’s death and the distinct possibility of his own.
When Napoleon Bonaparte died in exile in 1821, he took to the grave a powerful secret. As general and Emperor, he had stolen uncountable riches from palaces, national treasuries, even the Knights of Malta and the Vatican. In his final days, his British captors hoped to learn where the loot lay hidden. But he told them nothing and in his will he made no mention of his treasure.
Or did he?
Former-Justice Department operative Cotton Malone is about to find out after trouble comes knocking at his Copenhagen bookshop. Actually, it breaks and enters in the form of an American Secret Service agent with a pair of assassins on his heels. Malone has his doubts about the anxious young man, but narrowly surviving a ferocious firefight convinces him to follow his unexpected new ally.
Their first stop is the secluded estate of Malone's good friend, Henrik Thorvaldsen. The wily Danish tycoon has uncovered the insidious plans of the Paris Club, a cabal of multi-millionaires bent on manipulating the global economy. Only by matching wits with a terrorist-for-hire, foiling a catastrophic attack, and plunging into a desperate hunt for Napoleon's legendary lost treasure can Malone hope to avert international financial anarchy.
But Thorvaldsen's real objective is much more personal: a vendetta to avenge the murder of his son by the larcenous aristocrat at the heart of the conspiracy. Which places Malone in an impossible quandary-one that forces him to choose between friend and country, past and present. Starting in Denmark, moving to England, and ending up in the storied streets and cathedrals of Paris, Malone plays a breathless game of duplicity and death, all to claim a prize of untold value.
But at what cost?
The tomb of China's First Emperor, guarded by an underground army of terra cotta warriors, has remained sealed for 2200 years. Though it's regarded as one of the greatest archeological sites in the world, the Chinese government won't allow anyone to open it.
That question is at the heart of a dilemma faced by former-Justice Department operative Cotton Malone, whose life is shattered when he receives an anonymous note carrying an unfamiliar web address. Logging on, he sees Cassiopeia Vitt, a woman who's saved his life on more than one occasion, being tortured at the hands of a mysterious man who has a single demand - "Bring me the artifact she's asked you to keep safe." One problem: Malone doesn't have a clue what the man is talking about, since Cassiopeia has left nothing with him. So begins Malone's most harrowing adventure to date-one that offers up astounding historical revelations, pits him against a ruthless ancient brotherhood, and sends him from Denmark to Belgium to Vietnam then on to China, a vast and mysterious land where danger lurks at every turn.
Four United States presidents have been assassinated—in 1865, 1881, 1901, and 1963—each murder seemingly unrelated and separated by time.
But what if those presidents were all killed for the same reason: a clause in the United States Constitution—contained within Article 1, Section 8—that would shock Americans?
This question is what faces former Justice Department operative Cotton Malone in his latest adventure. When a bold assassination attempt is made against President Danny Daniels in the heart of Manhattan, Malone risks his life to foil the killing—only to find himself at dangerous odds with the Commonwealth, a secret society of pirates first assembled during the American Revolution. In their most perilous exploit yet, Malone and Cassiopeia Vitt race across the nation and take to the high seas. Along the way they break a secret cipher originally possessed by Thomas Jefferson, unravel a mystery concocted by Andrew Jackson, and unearth a centuries-old document forged by the Founding Fathers themselves, one powerful enough—thanks to that clause in the Constitution—to make the Commonwealth unstoppable.
Cotton Malone and his fifteen-year-old son, Gary, are headed to Europe. As a favor to his old boss at the Justice Department, Malone agrees to escort a teenage fugitive back to England. After a gunpoint greeting in London in which both the fugitive and Gary disappear, 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 wants that stopped, 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.
CIA Operative Blake Antrim, 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 centuries-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 45 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 stop the shattering consequences of the King's Deception.
September, 1861: All is not as it seems. With these cryptic words, a shocking secret passed down from president to president comes to rest in the hands of Abraham Lincoln. And as the first bloody clashes of the Civil War unfold, Lincoln alone must decide how best to use this volatile knowledge: Save thousands of American lives? Or keep the young nation from being torn apart forever?
The present: In Utah, the fabled remains of Mormon pioneers, whose 19th century expedition across the desert met with a murderous end, have been uncovered. In Washington, D.C., the official investigation of a international entrepreneur, an elder in the Mormon church, has sparked a political battle between the White House and a powerful United States senator. In Denmark, a Justice Department agent, missing in action, has fallen into the hands of a dangerous zealot - a man driven by divine visions to make a prophet's words reality. And in a matter of a few short hours, Cotton Malone has gone from quietly selling books at his shop in Denmark to dodging bullets in a high-speed boat chase.
All it takes is a phone call from his former boss in Washington, and suddenly the ex-agent is racing to rescue an informant carrying critical intelligence. It's just the kind of perilous business that Malone has been trying to leave behind, ever since he retired from the Justice Department. But once he draws enemy blood, Malone is plunged into a deadly conflict - a constitutional war secretly set in motion over 200 years ago by America's Founding Fathers.
From the streets of Copenhagen to the catacombs of Salzburg to the rugged mountains of Utah, the grim specter of the Civil War looms as a dangerous conspiracy gathers power. Malone risks life, liberty, and his greatest love in a race for the truth about Abraham Lincoln ---- while the fate of the United States of America hangs in the balance.
What happens if both the president and vice-president-elect die before taking the oath of office? The answer is far from certain—in fact, what follows would be nothing short of total political chaos.
Shot down over Siberia, ex-Justice Department agent Cotton Malone is forced into a fight for survival against Aleksandr Zorin, a man whose loyalty to the former Soviet Union has festered for decades into an intense hatred of the United States.
Before escaping, Malone learns that Zorin and another ex-KGB officer, this one a sleeper still embedded in the West, are headed overseas to Washington D.C. Inauguration Day—noon on January 20th—is only hours away. A flaw in the Constitution, and an even more flawed presidential succession act, have opened the door to disaster and Zorin intends to exploit both weaknesses to their fullest.
Armed with a weapon leftover from the Cold War, one long thought to be just a myth, Zorin plans to attack. He’s aided by a shocking secret hidden in the archives of America’s oldest fraternal organization—the Society of Cincinnati—a group that once lent out its military savvy to presidents, including helping to formulate three invasion plans of what was intended to be America’s 14th colony—Canada.
In a race against the clock that starts in the frozen extremes of Russia and ultimately ends at the White House itself, Malone must not only battle Zorin, he must also confront a crippling fear that he’s long denied, but which now jeopardizes everything. Steve Berry’s trademark mix of history and speculation is all here in this provocative new thriller.