The Kaiser’s Web

Cotton Malone Series Book 16

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Two candidates are vying to become Chancellor of Germany. One is a patriot having served for the past sixteen years, the other a usurper, stoking the flames of nationalistic hate. Both harbor secrets, but only one knows the truth about the other. They are on a collision course, all turning on the events of one fateful day ― April 30, 1945 ― and what happened deep beneath Berlin in the Fürherbunker. Did Adolph Hitler and Eva Braun die there? Did Martin Bormann, Hitler’s close confidant, manage to escape? And, even more important, where did billions in Nazi wealth disappear to in the waning days of World War II? The answers to these questions will determine not only who becomes the next Chancellor of Germany, but the fate of Europe as well.

From the mysterious Chilean lake district, to the dangerous mesas of South Africa, and finally into the secret vaults of Switzerland, former-Justice Department agent Cotton Malone discovers the truth about the fates of Hitler, Braun, and Bormann. Revelations that could not only transform Europe, but finally expose a mystery known as the Kaiser’s web.



“Thrilling . . . Berry skillfully lays out yet another tantalizing historical what-if, this one connected to Hitler’s last days in his bunker below Berlin.”
— Publisher’s Weekly


“In the mesmerizing The Kaiser’s Web, the tried and true Steve Berry exceeds even himself in crafting his most ambitious and relevant thriller to date. A no-holds-barred, high-stakes romp with echoes of class spy novelists like John le Carré, Len Deighton, and Alistair MacLean.”
— The Providence-Journal


“An inherently riveting novel by a master of the unexpected plot twist and turn, The Kaiser’s Web showcases Steve Berry’s impressive flair for originality and narrative storytelling techniques.”
— Midwest Book Review


"The Kaiser’s Web is a high-class combination of The Boys from Brazil meets Remains of the Day. It’s more substantive than the former and faster-paced than the latter.”
— Palm Beach ArtsPaper


"A new Cotton Malone edge-of-history action novel, well up the bestseller lists again this time. The historical invention is untiring. European history may be radically re-written and contemporary politics remade by what the team is about to discover about Hitler in his fatal bunker. If you’re not already a regular, this is a fine place to start."
— Sullivan County Democrat


"As in the previous Cotton Malone books, The Kaiser’s Web weaves history and adventure to build suspense. And build suspense it does. The plot is fast-paced and unpredictable, and it keeps you on the edge of your seat wondering what will happen next. Cotton Malone is a well-developed character and The Kaiser’s Web an extremely worthwhile read.”
— San Francisco Book Review


"Cotton Malone is back in this 16th installment of the outstanding series, and the one thing that can be said for sure is that this character remains exciting, fresh, thrilling, and edge-of-the-seat fantastic. . . . As always with Berry, the story is meticulously written; it offers information on political aspects in present day, as well as a fantastically realistic history that makes you feel like you watched the end of the WWII horror from the very front row. 5 Stars!”
— Suspense Magazine


“The Malone novels are formulaic, sure, but the formula is a good one and Cotton [Malone] remains a likable, entertaining series lead. Keep’em coming.”
— Booklist


"Cannily mixing historical research with florid inventions that fill in gaps, Berry presents an ominously up-to-date world whose frenzied nationalism is a direct descendant of the Thousand-Year Reich. Hitler may not live, but Heil Hitler is alive and all too well.”
— Kirkus Reviews


"Steve Berry truly has outdone himself here and, as wild as the plot twists get, the book never loses credibility or plausibility. The Kaiser’s Web is one of the most insightful, timely, and exciting reads of the year.”


"Berry reaches for more in The Kaiser’s Web and closes his hand around it in firm fashion. This is a dream read for the unabashed thriller aficionado, a story stitched along classic lines that never disappoints in laying out a riveting and relentless tapestry.”




"Although I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Kaiser’s Web, it was the first three chapters which cemented why I am a Cotton Malone superfan. I absolutely loved Berry’s description of Cassiopeia’s thoughts when she realizes she needs to jump from a plane. The scene is priceless and very realistic. My heart was in my throat through the entire episode.”


"Steve Berry does it as well as anyone in the historical thriller / alternative history genre. Filled with mystery, history and intrigue, twists and turns that keep your head spinning until the very end, The Kaiser’s Web is a wonderfully informative, entertaining and fast-paced novel. This is a worthy new chapter in the Cotton Malone series!”


"Told with his signature page-turning pacing and packed full of tightly-would mysteries just begging to be revealed, The Kaiser’s Web is one of Steve Berry’s best Cotton Malone thrillers to date.”


"Steve Berry writes these great historical thriller novels featuring the awesome character of Cotton Malone. The 16th book in the series is another thrill-ride, with lots of twists and turns that keep the reader on their toes. There’s a reason every January I start bugging his PR person at Minotaur Books for a copy . . . because they are so damn good.”


"The plot, pacing, and especially the various settings are great. It’s descriptive enough to feel like a vacation on your couch. 4 stars for historic fictional thriller readers!”


"I love the history and the action which is in every book. And this story is full of all of the above. Steve Berry is one of the best at historical mysteries! Cotton Malone books are not to be missed! Grab this one today!"


"Berry’s thrillers are known for high-intensity action, nail-biting suspense, intriguing characters in exotic places, mixed with a healthy serving of historical detail. The Kaiser’s Web is no exception.”





Republic of Belarus
Tuesday, June 11th
8:50 a.m.


COTTON MALONE KNEW THE SIGNS OF TROUBLE. HE SHOULD, SINCE HE lived in that perilous state more often than not. Take today. It started off innocent enough with breakfast at the superb Beijing Hotel. A touch of the Orient in a former-Soviet block nation. First class all the way, as it should be, since he had company on this journey.

“I hate planes,” Cassiopeia Vitt said.

He smiled. “Tell me something I don’t know.”

They were five thousand feet in the air, headed southwest toward Poland. Below stretched miles of unpopulated forest, the towns few and far between. They’d come east as a favor to former president Danny Daniels, who’d appeared in Copenhagen two days ago with a problem. The Chancellor of Germany was looking for someone named Gerhard Schüb. A Belarusian woman named Hanna Cress had appeared in Bavaria with some incredulous information, then had been murdered, but not before uttering one word.


“Do you think the two of you could take a quick trip to Minsk and see if you can learn more about her and/or Gerhard Schüb?” Daniels had asked.

So they’d chartered a plane and flown from Denmark yesterday morning, making inquiries all day.

Which had attracted attention.

“Do you think we can get out of this country in one piece?” she asked.

“I’d say it’s about fifty/fifty.”

“I don’t like those odds.”

He grinned. “We’ve made it this far.”

They’d barely escaped the hotel after the Militsiya arrived in search of them. Then, they’d made it to the airport just ahead of their pursuers only to find that the plane they’d arrived in yesterday had been confiscated. So he did what any enterprising bookseller who once served as an intelligence officer for the United States Justice Department would do, and stole another.

“I really hate planes,” she said again. “Especially ones I can barely move around in.”

Their choice of rides had been limited and he’d settled for a GA8 Airvan. Australian made. Single engine, strut-based wing, all metal, with an odd, asymmetrical shape. A bit squared-off and boxy would be a more accurate description. Designed for rough airstrips and bush landings. He’d flown one a few years ago and liked it. On this model the eight rear seats were gone, making for a somewhat roomy cabin behind them. Advertisements painted to the fuselage confirmed that this was a skydiving plane, and it had been easy to hotwire the engine to life.

He watched as she studied the ground out of the windows.

“It’s not that bad,” he said.

“That’s all relative.”

She was gorgeous. The Latin-Arab gene mix definitely produced some exceptionally attractive women. Add in being smart and savvy with the courage of a lioness, and what was not to love. Little rattled her save for she loathed the cold, and where he hated enclosed spaces she detested heights. Unfortunately, neither of them seemed to be able to avoid either.

“Do you know where we are?” she asked.

“I’d say north of Brest, which sits right on the Polish border. I was hoping to catch a glimpse of the town, off to the south.”

He’d dead reckoned their course, keeping the morning sun behind them and following the dash compass on a southwest heading. Too far north and they’d end up in Lithuania, which could continue their troubles. Poland was where they wanted to be, safe back in the EU. The Belarus State Security Committee remained the closest thing to the old Soviet KGB that still existed. It had even kept the same shorthand name, along with the rep as a major human rights violator. Torture, executions, beatings, you name it, those guys were guilty. So he preferred not to experience any of their methods firsthand.

He kept a light grip on the yoke, which sprang up from the floor rather than sticking out of the control panel. He had excellent visibility through the forward and side windows. The sky ahead loomed clear, the ground below a sea of dense trees. A road ran in a dark, winding path among them with an occasional farmhouse here and there.

He loved flying.

A plane was, to him, like a being onto itself. Flying was once supposed to have been his career. But things changed. Which, considering his life, seemed like an understatement.

He made a quick scan of the controls. Airspeed, 80 knots. Fuel, forty-five gallons. Electrical, all good. Controls, responsive.

Below, to the south, he caught sight of Brest in the distance.


“There’s our marker,” he said. “The border’s not far.”

They’d made good time on the hundred and twenty miles from Minsk. Once inside Poland he’d find a commercial airport to land where they could make their way out of the country on the first available flight. Far too risky to keep using this stolen ride.

He backed off the throttle, slowed their speed, and adjusted the flaps, allowing the Airvan to drop to a thousand feet. He intended on crossing at low altitude, under the radar.

“Here we go,” he said.

He kept the trim stable, the two-bladed propellers timbre never varying. The engine seemed to be working with no complaints. A few knocks rippled across the wings from the low-level air, but nothing alarming.

Then he saw it.

A flash.

Among the trees.

Followed by a projectile emerging from the canopy, heading straight for them.

He yanked the yoke and banked in a tight, pinpoint maneuver that angled the wings nearly perpendicular to the ground. Luckily, the Airvan had game and could handle the turn, but their slow speed worked against them and they began to fall.

The projectile exploded above them.

“An RPG,” he said, working the yoke and forcing the throttle forward, increasing speed. “Apparently we’ve not been forgotten.”

He leveled off the trim and prepared to climb.

To hell with under the radar. They were being attacked.

“Incoming,” Cassiopeia yelled, her attention out the windscreen.


“Two. Both sides.”


He maxed out the throttle and angled the flaps for a steep climb.

Two explosions occurred. One was far off causing no damage, but the other left a smoldering hole in one wing.

The engine sputtered.

He reached for the fuel mixture and shut down the left wing tanks, hoping that would keep air out of the line. They were still gaining altitude, but the engine began to struggle with life.

“That’s not good,” Cassiopeia said.

“No, it’s not.”

He fought the lumps and bumps, the yoke bucking between his legs. “I know you don’t want to hear this. But we’re going down.”


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