“The American Revolution was not a revolution at all. At no time was its goal the overthrow of the British government. None of its stated aims included conquering London and replacing the monarchy with a democracy.… The United States of America was founded by secessionists.”
This is the ninth book in a series. This review contains no spoilers for previous books in the series, aside from giving away the survival of the main character.
The Lincoln Myth, by Steve Berry
#9 in the Cotton Malone series
Ballantine Books, May 2014
381 pages (ebook)
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 an 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.
*** I requested this review copy through NetGalley. ***
Ever since reading The Templar Legacy, I’ve considered Steve Berry one of my favorite authors, and Cotton Malone one of my favorite series. But the truth is, I never quite know what I’m going to get.
I thought the issue at the heart of The Lincoln Myth was a fascinating one to play with, especially in light of so many people being dissatisfied with the government. But it was one of those books where I liked the idea more than the execution.
This didn’t feel like the Cotton Malone I’ve come to know. None of these characters did. If I’d read this as a stand-alone book, that would have gone a long way toward my enjoying it more. As it is, certain characters seemed too dark and edgy, ready to throw away all history together and believe the worst of each other. I liked reading about some of the newly introduced characters far more than the ones I’m supposed to be invested in.
And when I was done, I felt like I’d just finished watching one of those television season finales where “everything changes and nothing will ever be the same!” Only… I’m not sure I care.
I think I need to re-read the earlier books in this series (yes, this is a recurring theme with me lately) to jog my memory. When I first discovered it, there were five books in the series, and I felt like each one was building on the last. I haven’t gotten that from the last few books. Instead, it’s like Berry just pulls stuff out of nowhere rather than building on what he already has. Sometimes I love it – last year’s The King’s Deception was great – but other times I don’t. And I have to wonder if the series has changed focus, or if it’s my memories that are off.
The Lincoln Myth wasn’t as bad as I’m making it sound. I really liked all the history (whether it was real history or not) and the rest of it was good enough to keep me reading… but not to keep me excited about the series.
The Lincoln Myth is available in print, as well as for Kindle, Nook, and other e-readers.
Does The Lincoln Myth sound like something you’d pick up? How do you decide if you’ve outgrown an ongoing series?