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The Malta Exchange

Review

The Malta Exchange

At the heart of Steve Berry’s latest historical thriller is the following cipher: Sator. Arepo. Tenet. Opera. Rotas. You may recognize this to be a palindrome, meaning that the words can be read the same in every direction: backward and forward, vertically and horizontally. But figuring out what it means and why this exact group of words was found on ancient rings going back to the original Knights of Malta is another matter altogether. It is also ideal fodder for another brilliantly conceived and engaging novel from this New York Times bestselling author.

Berry is coming off the heels of last year's THE BISHOP'S PAWN, which reexamined the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and produced some exciting revelations that made for an unforgettable read. Whether he is dealing with modern mysteries or those involving ancient history, Berry is part of an elite group of authors --- namely Dan Brown, James Rollins and Brad Meltzer --- who continuously excel and push the boundaries of historical fiction.

"THE MALTA EXCHANGE is a real treat for fans of the stellar Cotton Malone series, as well as a top-notch historical puzzler for those who have not yet experienced Berry's favorite character."

THE MALTA EXCHANGE is a real treat for fans of the stellar Cotton Malone series, as well as a top-notch historical puzzler for those who have not yet experienced Berry's favorite character.

The majority of the action is centered on Malta and involves a myriad of plotlines: a conclave to elect a new Pope after the current one died; deciphering the hidden meaning behind artifacts tied to the ancient group known as the Knights of Malta; the Nostra Trinita, or Maltese Trinity; the emergence of a new group, the Secreti, a modern representation of the Knights; the discovery of the ancient tool known only as Constantine's Gift and how it could intervene in the papal election process; and the hunt for never-revealed correspondence between Il Duce Mussolini and Winston Churchill, which could have altered the outcome of World War II and possibly reshaped the balance of power in Europe forever.

Cotton Malone is initially drawn into the case for the missing letters but finds that they are tied to everything else that was mentioned, and more. He also crosses paths with his former protégé, Luke Daniels, whose presence is welcomed as this case has too many components for one former Justice Department operative to handle on his own.

Reviewed by Ray Palen on March 15, 2019

The Malta Exchange
by Steve Berry

  • Publication Date: March 5, 2019
  • Genres: Fiction, Suspense, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books
  • ISBN-10: 1250140269
  • ISBN-13: 9781250140265