The Bishops Pawn
By Steve Berry
Minotaur Books
ISBN  978-1250140227
Publication Date: March 2018

The Bishops Pawn

Review by Danny Lindsey

Steve Berry’s latest in the Cotton Malone series (The Bishops Pawn, Minotaur Books, 2018) is a departure from the thirteen previous ones. This is his first foray in first-person and juxtaposes present-day, eighteen years ago, and the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., some 50 years past. The eighteen years harkens to Malone’s first case, which began as an assignment with a shadowy organization, a hazy mission, and an altogether improbable explanation for the existence of the newly formed organization and for the necessity of the mission itself.

A rare gold coin, a satchel of documents purported to be from Hoover’s FBI files, and a deserted island form the basis for Malone’s assignment, with the stated objective of recovering the coin and returning it to the Treasury, and a secondary mission of retrieving the documents. Although aware that something is missing from his new superior Stephanie Nelle’s explanation, Malone jumps at the chance to become anything other than a Navy attorney, his current assignment.

With Berry’s usual mixture of a little James Bond, some MacGyver, and a touch of Houdini, Malone is vaulted back to the events leading up to King’s assassination. Hoover’s shadow still hovers over a small group of rogue FBI agents, although what they are hiding is not immediately obvious. His investigation leads him to King’s most trusted associate, still alive and also concealing something after a half-century, and leaves him in possession of information which becomes a conundrum—reveal it or leave it buried.

Berry breaks new ground in this offering, but his penchant for thorough research remains intact. His locations and their descriptions are the results of his having been there, walked the streets and visited the establishments, and his treatment of fictional characters are obviously based on real people, not named. Some of the internal FBI documents quoted are authentic; some are fictional. Readers have to get to the author’s notes at the end to separate historical fact from fiction.

This one is better than good, and is more believable than it probably should be.

Danny Lindsey keeps trying to retire. After a 20-year Army career and a 25-year second one in the private sector, he’s finally settled down. His current gig is as the Veteran Employment Services Manager for a Huntsville, A.L.  based non-profit, Still Serving Veterans. Both full careers were characterized by numerous writing assignments, from war plans to operating policies and procedures, then on to white papers, analyses of alternatives and competitive contract and grant proposals. Now his writing consists of blogs for the website, podcasts for the local NPR affiliate, and a half dozen Pulitzer-worthy, albeit unpublished novels.

Update:  Danny’s 2017 Claymore Award winning manuscript Serial Justice is now available on Amazon!