The Malta Exchange

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 08 Mar 2019

Member Reviews

Cotton Malone has left his quiet retirement in this thriller about  events that take place in different eras in Italy, in the Vatican & on the island of Malta. It also features the Knights of Malta, a 900 year old organization sanctioned by the Catholic Church. 

Cotton was offered a large sum by British intelligence to retrieve some documents that were believed to be in the possession of Mussolini shortly before his death. So he traveled to the Lake Como home where Mussolini spent his last night. However someone else was looking for the same documents and Malone was assaulted for his efforts. 

Then the story moved to Malta where a cardinal was preparing for the conclave called after the sudden death of the last Pope. Now Magellan Billet agent Luke Daniels was sent to help Cotton find the documents. The cardinal was a leader of the legendary Knights of Malta, an organization with an illustrious past. The Knights’ original task had been to guard Europe from attacks from the East. Malta was the perfect location for repelling attackers and fortifications were built all over the island. Even though the current day knights are still headquartered on Malta, the primary job of their monks today is to provide humanitarian aid to countries around the world. 

The Secreti, an ancient sect within the Knights ,  was tasked with finding ancient documents that could help the rouge cardinal ascend to the Papal seat. Cotton, Luke and even their boss, Stephanie Nelle, must race against time to try to stop the Papal conclave from electing the wrong cardinal.

This book, like others by Steve Berry, is filled with historical and geographic information. We learn about events dating back to the founding of the Christian church which still affect it today. The book is also fast paced with the action taking place within a 2 week span. If you like books that combine history and modern day church politics, this is one that you will enjoy.
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I'm a huge fan of Steve Berry after being introduced to The Third Secret by my mother-in-law.  He rivals Dan Brown for his storytelling.  The Malta Exchange opens after the death of the pope, when men are trying to secure votes to become the next in line for the most coveted throne in the world in the Vatican.  Berry does significant research about the people and process when choosing the pope.  He is well-versed in history regarding, in this case, Churchill, Mussolini, and the Catholic Church hierarchy.  I'm a huge fan of Cotton Malone and he is a player in The Malta Exchange and wherever he's found there's sure to be lots of intrigue and mystery.  Do not miss the next book in the Cotton Malone series.  I loved it!

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.
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Steve Berry always delivers an action-packed, clever story full of adventure, and The Malta Exchange is no different. Our series hero Cotton Malone returns, along with Stephanie Nelle and Cotton's heir apparent Luke, in another race-against-the-clock risky exploit full of evil villains and world-shaking secrets. 

While I enjoyed the story, I must confess I am growing weary of the "world-shaking secrets" so often coming back to the Vatican and Christianity. One of the reasons I keep reading Berry's work is that he really digs around to find or create "secrets" that range from roots in ancient civilizations to modern democracy. We all know the Catholic Church has screwed up the world in many ways and the premise here is slightly fresh but still tinged with the whole "Popes Are Bad" trope. That made this reading experience a little bland for me, only because I've read so much in the genre. 

Even so, I do always enjoy Steve Berry's work and this one will appeal to fans of the Cotton Malone series for sure. I'm also looking forward to the (hoped for) transition to Luke as the protagonist hero.
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Historical and regional research are obvious on every page as the author once again creates a thriller which also serves as a great history lesson. Weaving threads from Constantine to Napoleon to Mussolini to the modern-day Catholic Church around a tale of the Knights of Malta and conspiring twin brothers add our protagonist, Cotton Malone, and his compatriots to create a throughly enjoyable novel. I missed Cassiopeia in the story, but more time with Luke’s character  was a bonus.
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I have read every book in the Cotton Malone series. And, overall, I have loved and enjoyed them all. But, the series is beginning to fade for me. Too many chase scenes and lots of formulaic plotting make this less exciting than it used to be. The historical subplots have made the books stay fresh for me, but the Knights of Malta in the current book feels repetitive of so many Templar books out there.
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This is Steve Berry at his very best. Chase scenes, the Vatican, wannabe popes, killers and my favorite......Templar Knights! And all tied together with the always brilliant and resourceful, Cotton Malone. He has grown into one of my favorite thriller characters and he never fails to deliver. It was nice to see some familiar faces and locales in this book.  This book is very well written and the plot line is tight and coherent which means it delivers a story that flows from start to finish and made it impossible to put down. You don’t want to miss this one. 
Thank you NetGalley for providing me with an advanced copy for review!
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Full disclosure: Steve Berry is a longtime favourite author of mine; even his books that I consider "slow" or lagging are still excellent books.   The Malta Exchange is no different. 

Cotton Malone is sent on what is supposed to be a fairly easy retrieval mission only to walk in on what is a very unusual situation.  In the interest of keeping out spoilers, I will only say that Mr. Berry managed to make me laugh out loud even as I pondered what manner of imagination he had to come up with this scenario.  It certainly isn't a scenario I had read before and I thoroughly enjoyed the predicament Mr. Malone found himself in.  Therein lies Mr. Berry's real talent - he places his characters in the oddest situations, makes it seem totally plausible, injects humor into it, but keeps the narrative moving. 

I really enjoyed the appearance of Napoleon in this book.  I think in terms of books that use history as a backdrop to present day shenanigans, Napoleon is truly the most under utilized historical figure with just so much fun potential in him.  

All in all, this book is a great read.  The pacing is good, the narrative and the plot points are tight, the topic itself is interesting and I would highly recommend it to anyone.
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5 stars

This book has it all: a Vatican conclave, nefarious and corrupt cardinals, another cardinal vying for the top spot, rogue Maltese Knights, turncoat British agents and of course Cotton Malone, Stephanie Nelle and Luke Daniels, along with an assortment of other intriguing and colorful characters. 

Kastor Cardinal Gallo has gotten in trouble with the Pope. Now that Pope is dead in sudden circumstances and the conclave to elect a new Pope is going to commence very soon. Cardinals from all over the world are gathering. Meanwhile, both sinister and good forces are trying to locate a mysterious document that was supposedly hidden by Mussolini in the late 1930’s or so. The document originated in the 4th Century with Constantine the Great. It is very important to the Vatican, so both the bad guys and Cardinal Gallo want it. (However, the jury remains out as to whether Cardinal Gallo is a good or bad guy…)

At the same time Cotton is on the trail of some letters between Winston Churchill and Benito Mussolini. Little does he know that the two trails will soon merge. 

This is a fast-paced, high action thriller from the bear chasing Malone all the way through to the end of the story. It is very well written and plotted, as are all of Steve Berry’s novels. The story flows smoothly, with hardly an un-needed word. The story transitions are flawless and inserted into the story at well-crafted intervals. The reader gets to take a fast tour around Rome and Malta and their environs. There are some exciting twists and turns and some nice, big surprises. The thing I love about Steve Berry’s novels is that the reader gets an in-depth lesson in history. The history of the Knights of Malta and the Maltese influence of the story were very interesting as were all the little tidbits inserted throughout the book. Very good – and fascinating! 

I want to very much thank NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press/Minotaur Books for forwarding to me a copy of this great book for me to read, enjoy and review.
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I love Steve Berry, and as happy to receive this book to review. He always combines a great story with some intricate history and this is the same.
Centered on Malta, there is a search for a fabled document, one the church desperately wants to keep hidden. Several groups want this document to help leverage the vote for a new pope, the previous one having died unexpectedly which puts a big time pressure on the search. Cotton Malone is asked to step in and find it first. 
The complex history includes Constantine, Mussolini and a current crop of really corrupt bishops. 

As always, the history is clearly drawn so it's easy to follow what's going on, and not as easy to predict what is going to happen. There are clues, though.

One of the best parts of the book for me what the contents of one of the hidden documents. Really scathing, and very perceptive. It would be very interesting to see what would happen if that document really existed and were revealed to the faithful. 
Thanks for the chance to read early in exchange for honest review.
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Cotton is back, along with Luke, but Cassiopeia sits this one out.  The boys are on the island of Malta, in a plot that seems like Da Vinci Code and Last Templar smushed together.  They are fighting against corrupt church officials, turncoat government officials, and a lack of communication.  Per Steve Berry's books, you'll get a history lesson, an alternative perspective, and some action.  I thought there might be a Cassiopeia 2.0, but it didn't work out.  The ending seemed a bit underwhelming, possibly because there was so much action and then it just stopped suddenly, but overall a good book.  I enjoy the history lessons buried within these.
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The nicest touch about many of Mr Berry's novels is the close attention paid to the historical setting of the book.  He and his wife founded the group "History Matters" and are very involved in bringing to light the actual events occurring in world history.  "The Malta Exchange" features Cotton Malone and what is looking more and more like his protege Luke Daniels working on an assignment for the Magellan Billet a secret U.S. government organization.  Luke is a new employee with the Billet while Cotton is retired after years of service with them. Cotton is on paid temporary  assignment with them in the book  The two  are sent to Italy to search for papers missing since World War II which delineate an attempt by Winston Churchill to arrange a peace with Mussolini, the than Italian dictator, and which could very well rewrite history if brought to light,

     The action in this story takes place during a time when the current Pope has died and a conclave of Cardinals of the Catholic Church has been called to the Vatican to decide upon a new Pope.  Mr Berry includes a history of both the Church as well as the island of Malta as background to his novel.  These sidebars have been setup as part and parcel of the search for the Churchill papers and, I believe, that they make a good story even better.  The Church's history as depicted, goes back to it's beginnings and includes events during the reign of Constantine during the fourth century A.D.  in which that king became instrumental in making the Church the world wide organization that it currently is.  Malta's history includes centuries of being the territory of one nation after another and beginning at least 5000 years ago as cave drawings  show humans living there at that point in the past.

     Two brothers have been plotting for years to elevate one of them to the Papacy at the appropriate time.  Their scheming and the actual attempt at getting elected to the position via clandestine activities comprise much of the investigative activity of Malone and Daniels.  By itself this attempt will draw in readers and with the addition of the well documented historical background make for a great novel.  
     I reiterate that I find the historical facts brought into Mr Berry's novels fascinating and bring out the the truism that the events of the past are not cut and dried.  They are open to analysis and can be shown to influence events much more than normally thought.  Readers can interpret these background explanations as helping to solve a mystery even if they do not enjoy the interjection of new facts in history as part of the book.  I, personally, always await the next Steve Berry novel with a great deal of anticipation.
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I really enjoy this series!  The main character, Cotton, is a lot of fun to read about and the adventures keep me wanting to know more.  The story moves along at a great pace and keeps me interested.  I also really like his notes at the end and how he tells what actually happened and what he embellished.  Looking forward to the next adventure!
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Another great thriller by Berry.  Book starts with Mussolini and a secret he has.   Then story fast forwards to today and a set of identical twins in the Catholic church. The book gives a great overview of Malta.  There are betrayals and twists in plots throughout the book.  I thoroughly enjoyed.  Another hit for Berry.
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The Malta Exchange by Steve Berry is an interesting novel about the Catholic Church and history. Cotton Malone is back in action but this time he has help. Luke Daniels has joined the Magellan Billet Stephanie Nelle asks Cotton to join Luke and the adventure begins. The plot is complicated are revolves around ambition and the search for Nostra Trinita. This was thought to contain secrets  for hidden for over 1700 years during Constantine's rule.
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