The Malta Exchange

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 08 Mar 2019

Member Reviews

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.
Was this review helpful?
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.
Was this review helpful?
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.
Was this review helpful?
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I usually enjoy Steve Berry's books for the historical references within his fictitious framework, but The Malta Exchange lost my attention early in the novel.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.
Was this review helpful?
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.
Was this review helpful?
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.
Was this review helpful?
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.
Was this review helpful?
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**
Was this review helpful?
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.
Was this review helpful?
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.
Was this review helpful?
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.
Was this review helpful?
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.
Was this review helpful?
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.
Was this review helpful?
3.5 stars

  The Cotton Malone books are like reading Indiana Jones. You want some popcorn and then kick back to enjoy a fast paced action adventure. Malone is a retired special agent from the U.S. who is now running an antique book store in Copenhagen. He still does does freelance cases and is hired by the British for this one.
  The adventure involves the Knights of Malta, Charlamagne, Napoleon, a Vatican Conclave and Mussolini. It leaves you breathless just reading the cast of characters. Berry's novels are so interesting because not only are they a thrill a minute but there is so much much history packed into them. He does an amazing amount of research.
  This one centers around a disgraced Cardinal who wants to be the Pope. The lengths he'll go to are without limits and and dead bodies pile up everywhere. Luckily, Malone is on the case and things get resolved. This is a fun book with great history thrown in.

  Thanks to NetGalley for a copy of this book in exchange for a fair review.
Was this review helpful?
I received an eARC from NetGalley for my honest review.  Steve Berry writes wonderful full action mysteries based on some fiction mixed with his well researched historical fact. Let me start by saying how wonderful it is that he has moved on from american history to once again come to the emense, rest of the world. As with all of his Cotton Malone books, this edition takes you on a fact finding, fast paced read, to a thrilling conclusion. Great for anyone who reads James Rollins or Clive Cussler.
Was this review helpful?
The Malta Exchange by Steve Berry

Cotton Malone is back… and Luke Daniels is with him.  

Cotton Malone is asked by M16 to investigate and find a set of documents written by Mussolini to Churchill. This begins the rollercoaster ride with finding the documents and then losing the documents and then finding other documents and following clues.  Luke Daniels is looking into something in Malta for his boss.  Only to find that Cotton is in the middle of something and it all seems to link.  Cotton wants to figure out where and why people are dying over old documents.

I love the thrill and clues.  I love how hard Cotton and Luke work to figure out what is happening. I love the twists and turns.  What I didn’t like was the long explanations about the history of the church and the long recitation of documents.  I admit I did skip parts of this.  However, I really enjoyed the mystery and clues laid out.  I liked hearing about the the politics of the election of Popes.   Overall,The Malta Exchange by Steve Berry was a good read.
Was this review helpful?
Mussolini, Churchill, lost letters, The Roman Catholic Church, The Hospitaller Brother of St. John’s of Jerusalem, the Vatican, Constantine’s Gift, Napoleon, Malta, a Palindrome that keeps reasserting its presence, an ultimate grab for power. 

The fourteenth in the Cotton Malone series is more high adventure with someone trying to kill Cotton and his “frat boy” colleague Luke Daniels. Both have been tasked with finding things that need to remain lost. Cotton has been hired to find the lost letters between Mussolini and Churchill that threaten the British Empire. Murder and mayhem abound. Luke Daniels is spying on a Prince of the Church while he is parasailing 250 feet over the Mediterranean Sea. He has no idea why Cardinal Gallo has fled Rome for Malta when a conclave to elect a new pope has been called but he is happy to watch and observe until someone starts shooting at him. Definitely an occupational hazard when you are a part of Stephanie Nell’s Magellan Billet.

This story was puzzle pieces that only provided the corners for support. This story kept me wondering how and when it was all going to fill in. As in most of Berry’s books the ultimate proposition is a concept that is simple but mind boggling. The Roman Catholic church is about to take a literary hit in more ways than one.  Better to wade through the mire and enjoy the “jaw drop”.

Thank you NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for an ARC.
Was this review helpful?
Cotton Malone is a fascinating favorite character, but The Malta Exchange is a little disappointing.  Perhaps using the Catholic Church and the inevitable searches for their secrets through time is a bit overdone.  A challenge to read but still looking forward to Cotton’s next adventure.
Was this review helpful?
Just when you thought that Cotton Malone was going to relax and enjoy retirement, he joins the hunt for some papers that Mussolini had.  Luke Daniels was sent to watch a situation unfold in Malta and everything goes sideways.  Malone goes to retrieve some papers and nothing goes right there either.  A conspiracy that could determine who is the next pop.  Only time will tell.
Was this review helpful?
I have loved this series from its beginning but I was let down by book 12, The Lost Order. I felt that book was very slow and hard to get through so I skipped Book 13 since it was a prequel to the series. I am happy to report that this book is back to what I love about this series. It is action packed but laden with great historical places and information. I found myself pausing to look up the places referenced and have a visual for these real world locations which is something I always love about this series. 

Cotton as we know is retired but finds himself freelancing for cash and gets himself caught up in his usual intrigue that will bing him back to the Magellan Billet for an operation. This time there is about to be a conclave to elect a new Pope and plots are hatching. At first Cotton is concerned with the significance of letters between Mussolini and Churchill but eventually matters will come around to the Catholic Church itself. 

This may be a hard book for Catholics. Berry is unflinching in his portrayal of the Church’s motives and scandals. They are portrayed as a greedy lot more concerned with lining their pockets than with saving souls. No reference is made however to any of their sexual scandals. Perhaps even more damning is the way the conclave itself is portrayed. Men concerned with power and never by any thought to a movement by the Holy Spirit as to who should be Pope. Berry does mention that the scandals are purportedly true but does not say the same about his portrayal of the conclave itself. 

While this book does very much concern the Church it is very action packed. It is a fast paced novel that takes place mostly in Malta. Berry did an excellent job of using real world locations as the backdrop of his action. I have always been a huge fan of Luke Daniels and was glad to see he was back. The novel made great use of the juxtaposition of the seasoned Cotton and the more rookie Luke. They are not together for much of the novel but working separate angles to the same end. Stephanie appears briefly but Cassiopeia, while mentioned a few times, never appears. My digital gallery did often make it difficult to know who we were following as when I turned the page it would suddenly be a different POV with no page or chapter break as a warning. Hopefully that won’t be true of the Kindle final version. At one point both Cotton and Luke are being told the same historical story to bring them up to speed but it’s broken up in quick alternating POVs that was confusing and unusual for Berry. 

I love Berry’s blend of action and history and it’s back to its best in this novel. I loved learning about Malta and it’s significance that I was unaware of and the same was true of the obelisk that still stands to Mussolini. I love the way Berry uses real places as part of the story. If you are a fan of this series you will love this novel and enjoy Cotton back in action. If you are new to the series go back to the beginning and enjoy.
Was this review helpful?