cover image The Empire of Night: A Christopher Marlowe Cobb Thriller

The Empire of Night: A Christopher Marlowe Cobb Thriller

Robert Olen Butler. Grove/Atlantic/Mysterious, $26 (416p) ISBN 978-0-8021-2323-

Set on the cusp of America’s involvement in WWI, Butler’s exciting third Christopher Marlowe Cobb novel (after 2013’s The Star of Istanbul) finds the American journalist-turned-spy not only deep in enemy territory in Berlin but paired with an unlikely ally: his mother, famed stage actress Isabel Cobb. Both mother and son target Sir Albert Stockman, a member of the British parliament whose German ancestry makes him a potential spy. As Isabel woos Stockman with her gender-bending performance of Hamlet in London and Berlin, Cobb must work his way in posing as an American journalist with German sympathies. Where Stockman’s loyalties lie is clear, but Butler does a commendable job teasing out the details of the man’s overarching, and terrifying, plan. The period details are spot on, and though readers even vaguely familiar with the history will put the pieces together, this tale of shifting allegiances and worldwide consequences enthralls. Agent: Warren Frazier, John Hawkins & Associates. (Oct.)