Cover Image: The Malta Exchange

The Malta Exchange

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Member Reviews

Thank you NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for the opportunity to read and give an honest review of this book.

I have read several, but not all, of Steve Berry’s books. I always enjoy them and they remind me of an Indiana Jones adventure.I learn about history and become engrossed in the character, Cotton Malone’s problem solving ability. 

In this book, Malone starts out trying to accomplish a mission to retrieve letters that Churchill wrote to Mussolini during World War 2. He ends up becoming involved in the plot a cardinal has, to become Pope. He also goes on a treasure hunt to find something called ‘Constantine’s Gift.’  I must admit, not being Catholic, I was at times lost in the complicated descriptions of Vatican politics and unfamiliar terms like The Holy See and the Emnity.

However, one thing is always clear, bad guys are still bad guys, no matter what the setting is. This is a great adventure and you can come away from it learning some history you may not have been familiar with prior to reading this book.
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deadly race for the Vatican’s oldest secret fuels New York Times bestseller Steve Berry’s latest international Cotton Malone thriller.
The pope is dead. A conclave to select his replacement is about to begin. Cardinals are beginning to arrive at the Vatican, but one has fled Rome for Malta in search of a document that dates back to the 4th century and Constantine the Great.
Former Justice Department operative, Cotton Malone, is at Lake Como, Italy, on the trail of legendary letters between Winston Churchill and Benito Mussolini that disappeared in 1945 and could re-write history. But someone else seems to be after the same letters and, when Malone obtains then loses them, he’s plunged into a hunt that draws the attention of the legendary Knights of Malta.
The knights have existed for over nine hundred years, the only warrior-monks to survive into modern times. Now they are a global humanitarian organization, but within their ranks lurks trouble — the Secreti — an ancient sect intent on affecting the coming papal conclave. With the help of Magellan Billet agent Luke Daniels, Malone races the rogue cardinal, the knights, the Secreti, and the clock to find what has been lost for centuries. The final confrontation culminates behind the walls of the Vatican where the election of the next pope hangs in the balance

My thoughts
While this book was slow going ,I actually liked it that way because it helped with the build of what was going on, it made me want to read more of it and kept my attention though out the story , one of the things I love about his books is how he uses history and mixes it with fiction so well that it blends perfectly together, not once did I have any trouble with fellowing what was going on even though this is book 14 of the series. Basically it was a fantastic read that had me setting on the edge of me set , the history and the characters seemed so real and makes me want to read more of this series ,with that said I want to thank Netgalley for letting me read and review it exchange for my honest opinion.
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Really good book and entertaining plot line. I wish I could get to all of the locations in the book but that’s not going to happen. I do like the emphasis and plot around the Vatican. It seems any book that includes the church, Rome, and Southern Europe will be very entertaining.
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Cotton is in Italy, on the trail of letters from the end of WWII between Churchill and Mussonlini. At the same time, the current pope has died and one cardinal is off on a trail of his own. Moves fast like a Dan Brown book and has little bits of interesting factoids in the story too.
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When Cotton Malone and Luke Daniels both end up on the island of Malta, the race is on to discover (or protect) some major secrets in The Malta Exchange. 

Malone is on the track of legendary letters between Winston Churchill and Benito Mussolini. Daniels is chasing down information on a cardinal who has left Rome to find an ancient document on Malta that could affect the election of the next pope, even as the cardinals are gathering at the Vatican for a papal conclave. Both will encounter the Knights of Malta, an ancient group in existence for over nine hundred years, although the former soldier monks have now become a humanitarian association. The knights also have an internal organization known as the Secreti, who are determined to keep the 4th-century text a secret. 

As all the players return to Rome, the action intensifies. Cotton and Luke have become entangled in the schemes of a rogue cardinal, an historic group of knights determined to protect a secret from the past, a papal conclave, a slice of World War II history and the future of the Roman Catholic church. 

Steve Berry never disappoints. There is plenty of historical info, thrilling action and a just plain good read in The Malta Exchange.
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Another great tale with Cotton Malone. One of the most informative literary figures out there! Always a pleasure and always look forward to the next one!

If you like history - Italy, the Vatican, and adventure, then this one is for you!
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I received a copy of this title via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

Steve Berry's Cotton Malone series is a swashbuckling adventure. I have not read the entire series but don't feel that I'm lacking in any way by reading them out of order. This is the second title I have read in this series. The previous book, The Bishop's Pawn, I enjoyed immensely. This new title peaked my interest immediately. Any story based off hidden church secrets intrigues me. The overall plot was enjoyable but I felt the pacing of the book to be off. One minute you feel like you're going off a 100 foot drop on a roller coaster ride while the next you're casually riding down the lazy river ride. Berry writes vividly so there is no need to guess what is happening even in the most action packed scene. Visual observation scenes I found were what ruined the pace for me so I tended to just peruse those. The plot was filled with duplicity and some was a little confusing to follow. Overall the book was good.
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The Cotton Malone series is one that I watch for, and I was anxious to read The Malta Exchange.  If you are already a Cotton Malone/Steve Berry fan, you may be interested to know that this one also centers on Luke Daniels.  If you are new to the series, I would suggest you start at the beginning, there's a lot of back story to each of the characters.  The premise of The Malta Exchange was intriguing, the story started out strong. The reason I went with 3.5 stars is that there were two separate storylines, and I found them hard to follow.  Both were interesting, but going back and forth  became tedious.  There was a great deal of detail in the settings and an over emphasis on Catholic Doctrine at times.  While The Malta Exchange isnt my favorite, I'll be around for the next Cotton Malone !
I received my copy through NetGalley under no obligation.
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This series just keeps pulling you in and getting better if that's even possible. I always read Steve Berry because of all the intrigue. Thanks, Net-Galley for the book.
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Thank you to NetGalley and Steve Berry for allowing me to read and review The Malta Exchange. I love Berry's novels, and usually, purchase them on Audible. Cotton Malone is one of my favourite main characters, and as usual, Berry knocks it out of the park.
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Minotaur Books and NetGalley provided me with an electronic copy of The Malta Exchange.  I was under no obligation to review this book and my opinion is freely given.

Cotton Malone is a retired Justice Department operative, hiring himself out for freelance work to keep things interesting.  Dispatched to Lake Como, Italy, searching for some legendary letters written between Winston Churchill and Benito Mussolini before the end of the war, Malone briefly has and loses the historic papers.  As the hunt ensues, Malone gets tangled in a mystery with religious and historic implications.

I usually enjoy Steve Berry's books for the historical references within his fictitious framework, but The Malta Exchange lost my attention early in the novel.  This book is heavy with religion, especially the secrets surrounding the Catholic Church.  I have very little knowledge of papal history, which admittedly is due to the fact that I am not interested in the subject.  The intrigue that usually goes hand and hand with Cotton Malone books is largely absent in my opinion, as the book is more of a straightforward mystery.  The Malta Exchange was a disappointment, as character development was at a minimum because Cotton Malone is so established.  Readers who are fans of the character or who are interested in religious history may find The Malta Exchange to their liking.
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I am an avid Steve Berry reader. I love the mystery, suspense and the believable way in which he blends fact and fiction making the two indistinguishable and this one is no exception.  Since I also love traveling, Malta is definitely on my bucket list and I hope to travel there someday soon. I'm also the person who thought about Cotton Malone when I visited Copenhagen and Hojbro Plads. While there was predictably no bookstore at the location I made sure to get a selfie with the street sign. 
Clearly this one stirs up a lot of controversy since the Catholic Church and the election of a pope is central to the theme of the story and definitely priests and cardinals are not painted in a good light. If I could separate fact from fiction and imagine that an ambitious character stands at the cusp of achieving the pinnacle and if he doesn't mind bending the rules to achieve his ends why not? This is fiction after all and somebody's got to be the bad guy.  I truly enjoyed the spell binding suspense as the Cotton and Luke track down the clues and run afoul of the evil minions managing to stay one step ahead. 
Overall in my mind another winner for Mr. Berry. Can't wait to see where he goes next.
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The Pope is dead. The Cardinals are starting to gather in the Vatican, except for Kastor Cardinal Gallo who heads to Malta on the hunt for long-lost documents, guarded by the secret Knights of Malta.  The documents in question date back to Constantine and are a potential threat to the foundation and existence of the Catholic Church.  The Magellan Billet, headed by relative new comer (to the series) Jake Daniels is chasing Gallo.  Cotton Malone, former member of the Magellan Billet, and owner/proprietor of a rare bookstore in Amsterdam, has been retained by MI6 to locate and recover some documents which are reported to be letters between Churchill and Mussolini that the Crown would like to keep hidden and out of the public sphere.

Steve Berry is a master in the historical fiction genre.  Now at 14 books, his Cotton Malone series has found a solid niche and continue to be interesting, well developed stories.  As fiction, Berry takes liberties with history, which I have no problem with.  He also takes time at the end of the books to differentiate between history and fiction.

This book is foundationally about the Catholic Church.  Admittedly, I am not a scholar on this vast topic, but I do enjoy reading books where mysteries of the Church and the Vatican are discussed/portrayed.  As one of the oldest, if not the oldest organizations around today, the Catholic Church certainly has a storied history, and not all of it flattering.  In addition, it is well publicized that there are leaders within the Church that commit evil acts and are not the model of piety that one would expect from a religious leader.  I think this is where it is important to be able to separate out documented history from fiction.

The Malta Exchange is also detailed in the depiction of Malta, a tiny island nation that sits between Italy and the Horn of Africa, positioning it in the center of maritime trade routes throughout history.  Several of the locations were documented in great detail, sometimes perhaps too much.  Even with that, I found myself interested in doing some additional research of the island and would love to visit locations featured in the story.  That is how well written they are.

I have found in general that the Cotton Malone books don't read at the same pace or continued intensity of other niches within the thriller genre, but that is in no way intended as a knock on Berry or his writing, but rather more of a nod to the historical elements of the stories.  The action sequences within the books are on par with other thrillers, and won't leave readers disappointed,

There is an interesting transition in the works with the Magellan Billet.  It will be interesting to see where Berry heads with Malone and the organization, now that he has stepped away.  As the featured character it is tough to think Malone will be written out of the picture, but as happens in reality, organizations continue moving forward even as people retire and move on.  I can't wait to see what is next.

8.5 stars out of 10 for the Malta Exchange.  Not my favorite in the series of 14, but a fine book none the less.

My thanks to Minotaur Books and NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of the book in exchange for my thoughts and opinions.
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I first learned of Steve Berry right after The Amber Room was published and he was interviewed on the Today Show.  I have read every book he has written and loved each one.  I've frequently said on my blog that I believe Cotton Malone is one of the greatest literary characters ever written.  I recommend Steve Berry's books to everyone and consider him one of my top five authors.  That being said, The Malta Exchange left me stunned and disappointed. I felt the book was too weighted down with the historical details, which normally I relish reading. It just read more like a history book and not the type of books that Steve Berry usually produces.  I typically fly through a Steve Berry book within a few days and never want to put it down, but this latest installment did not engage me.  While I find the character of Luke Daniels interesting, I felt The Malta Exchange struggled from trying to give two strong characters an equal balance that left the book lacking for continuity.  

It really pains me to write this type of review for one of my all time favorite authors and for that reason, I won't be sharing it on my blog or social media. I just can't bring myself to post anything negative about Steve Berry or a Cotton Malone book. I'm going to hope that I simply was in the wrong mindset to read The Malta Exchange and plan to revisit it in 6 months. I just can't accept that Steve Berry would write anything that I didn't love and rate 5 stars.  

Thank you for providing me a copy of this book and I hope that this will not prevent me from having the opportunity to review additional books by Steve Berry in the future.
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When I seen a Steve Berry book up on NetGalley I jumped at the chance to become immersed in the world of Cotton and conspiracy theories. Add in the major religious factors, an order of knights and I was sold.

I haven't read a Cotton Malone book in quite a while so I was thrilled to read this one. The Malta Exchange was a well paced, thrilling ride that gives you the story of the sudden death of the Pope and twin brothers; one of whom wants to be the next Pope. Throw in Cotton, Luke, Mussolini, Churchill and a document that dates to Constantine the Great; one that could throw religion as we know into chaos and you have the makings of a tale that will keep your head between the pages.

I put this at 4 stars only because there were a few twists that I figured out pretty early on but overall that didn't detract from the overall effect of this book because it was quite simply brilliant!!

**Received ARC through NetGalley. Voluntarily reviewed**
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The Malta Exchange by Steve Berry is the latest entry in the long-running Cotton Malone series.  Berry packs this thriller/mystery with action from beginning to end as Cotton and protégé, Luke Daniels, solve a current international dilemma that has ties to Churchill and Mussolini but is centered in the early history of the Roman Catholic Church.

While I prefer my thrillers to be driven more by character, Berry’s novels demonstrate his mastery of historic fact and his artistry in blending fact with fiction. You cannot help but be intrigued by the history while you are carried forward by the action.

Many thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for the opportunity to read the eARC in exchange for an honest review.
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Continuing the adventures of Cotton Malone, this book shows the growing character development and relationships of key characters.  Historical facts are seamlessly interwoven and this book is not just enjoyable, but informative. Recommend to readers of this series and to anyone who wants to start a great series.
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The pope has died and a conclave in convening. But, one cardinal may change the course of history. An ancient sect, knights and secrets are all it takes to bring in Cotton Malone. Cotton is once again on the trail of a mystery. He is searching for letters written between Churchill and Mussolini during WWII. This opens a can of worms and leads to murder and mayhem.

I have been a fan of Steve Berry for quite a long time. His book The Amber Room still ranks as one of my all time favorites. However, his past couple of books have been lacking for me. As a matter of fact, I could not even finish the last one. This one, however, is a little better. Notice, I said “a little”. This book’s subject matter is much better because it is a religious mystery with a little bit of WWII sprinkled in. Plus, this one takes you all over Italy and that is a great historical setting. No one does historical research like Steve Berry. He has wonderful history in with action and intrigue. However, I am ready for Cotton to retire. Cotton does not have the allure for me as he did in the past. I feel now that all the books read the same.

After that being said….if you have never read Steve Berry, do not let this review stop you. He is a very good writer. I am just ready for something different.

I received this novel from Minotaur Books via Netgalley for a honest review.
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Thank you so much to St. Martin’s Press for the eARC of The Malta Exchange! 
I started reading Steve Berry some years ago when I found a Cotton Malone book on my Dad’s bookshelf. I love international intrigue, and I really enjoyed the interplay of Cotton, Luke working for the Magellan Billet, and the Knights of Malta working with the Catholic Church.  One thing I love about these books is how Steve Berry interweaves real settings and historical events with fiction & I think he does it particularly well in this story.
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I checked my website ( and it looks like I’ve never reviewed a Steve Berry book, even though I’ve read 10 in the Cotton Malone series. The only reason I can come up with is because they are such a fast read, that by the time I think of it, I’ve already read another book, and am totally lazy, and don’t want to go back and write a review. To which I say, “Shame on me!” Berry is such a wonderful writer, that I should write reviews to let others know about this great series.
Whenever people at the library ask me what they should read, I ask them what they have read that they enjoyed. If they mention, Dan Brown, then I always tell them that they must read Steve Berry. And it’s totally sexist, but if it’s a guy, I will mention Berry. I told my step-dad about this series, and he’s read them all, and has really enjoyed them.
What I enjoy about the Cotton Malone series is the great action scenes, the fast pacing, and how Berry incorporates historical fact with fiction. In this book almost all of the historical references are real, with only a few made up to help solidify the story. If history textbooks were written like this, kids in school would love to learn. If I was a teacher, I would have the kids read one of Berry’s books, and then the textbook on the same subject to fill in anything else.
Since Berry does such in depth research into whatever topic he’s writing about, and often has visited the places, the detail he gives to the scenes are amazing. There will be some books where I skim through scenes because the scenery and architectural descriptions are either not good, or so lengthy and boring, but never Berry’s books. His depictions of the architect and surrounding scenery is amazing.
The only thing that pulled me out of the story was when Luke Daniels, agent for the good guys, started thinking about another of the characters romantically. The scenes were written well, but I just wanted to get back to the action.
If you couldn’t guess already, I highly recommend this book. And if you haven’t been reading the Cotton Malone series, you may want to start with the first book, The Templar Legacy.
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