cover image The Kaiser’s Web

The Kaiser’s Web

Steve Berry. Minotaur, $28.99 (432p) ISBN 978-1-250-14034-0

At the start of bestseller Berry’s thrilling 16th Cotton Malone novel (after 2020’s The Warsaw Protocol), former U.S. president Danny Daniels travels to Bavaria at the request of Marie Eisenhuth, the pro-American German chancellor. In a police station interrogation room, he meets Hanna Cress, a shadowy Belarussian operative, who hands over an envelope containing some GPS coordinates. Cress says the coordinates indicate a place Daniels is supposed to visit, but she doesn’t know why. Then she lights up what turns out to be a cyanide-laced cigarette; just before expiring, she utters the word Kaiser. The meeting comes in the midst of a contentious German national election in which Eisenhuth faces a vigorous challenge from an anti-immigrant candidate with a murky past. Daniels contacts Malone, a former agent for a clandestine division of the Justice Department, and asks for his help to insure Eisenhuth’s reelection. Malone’s mission takes him and the de rigeur attractive female partner to Chile. Berry skillfully lays out yet another tantalizing historical what-if, this one connected to Hitler’s last days in his bunker below Berlin. Fans of over-the-top action yarns will be pleased. Agent: Simon Lipskar, Writers House. (Feb.)