cover image The Atlas Maneuver

The Atlas Maneuver

Steve Berry. Grand Central, $30 (400p) ISBN 978-1-538721-03-2

Bestseller Berry never takes his foot off the gas in the hyperactive 18th thriller featuring Cotton Malone (after The Last Kingdom). After ostensibly retiring from his chaotic life as a top-secret U.S. intelligence operative to run a sleepy bookshop in Copenhagen, Malone’s pulled back into action by a request from the CIA’s European station chief, Derrick Koger. After WWII, Koger reveals, the nascent CIA discovered hundreds of millions of dollars in gold that the Japanese hid stashed in Luxembourg’s Bank of St. George. Koger asks Malone to keep an eye on bank employee Kelly Austin, whose safety may be under threat, in connection with her proximity to the gold. After Malone thwarts an attempt on Kelly’s life, he discovers that she’s actually Suzy Baldwin, one of his former lovers, in disguise. To keep Suzy safe, Malone sets out to uncover the motives of her pursuers and turns up evidence of a vast, cryptocurrency-focused financial conspiracy. Though there’s enough sound and fury to satisfy diehard series fans, uneven prose and an overbusy plot keep this from reaching the heights of previous entries. Here’s hoping Berry tightens the focus for Malone’s next adventure. Agent: Simon Lipskar, Writers House. (Feb.)