cover image The Secret Crown

The Secret Crown

Chris Kuzneski. Putnam, $25.95 (432p) ISBN 978-0-399-15745-5

Kuzneski’s lightweight sixth contemporary thriller featuring former Special Forces pals Jonathon Payne and David Jones (after 2010’s The Prophecy) takes the bantering duo to Bavaria, where they get on the trail of a hidden treasure belonging to Ludwig II, the eccentric 19th-century Bavarian monarch popularly known as Mad King Ludwig, who died mysteriously at age 40. A bad guy, Hans Mueller, also seeks the treasure, and a pretty young woman who works for a government ministry that oversees all the castles in Bavaria serves largely as the butt for sex jokes from the guys when they aren’t making fun of each other’s manhood. Kuzneski is good at parceling out interesting historical details, but it’s pretty much a stroll through a Bavarian theme park for Payne and Jones, who barely break a sweat while dispatching evildoers. Fans of sophomoric humor will be most rewarded. Agent: Scott Miller at Trident Media. (Jan.)