‘Bishop’s Pawn’ is Steve Berry’s most personal novel to date


“The Bishop’s Pawn” (Minotaur), by Steve Berry

Before Cotton Malone worked with Stephanie Nelle and the Magellan Billet, he was a Navy lawyer who seemed to get cases that kept him busy, but weren’t intellectually challenging.

When Nelle approaches him with a simple assignment, Malone cannot say no.  A vessel containing a rare 1933 Double Eagle has sunk near Dry Tortugas National Park, just over 70 miles from Key West, Florida.  His mission is to retrieve the case with the coin from the sunken ship and give it to Nelle. When he arrives, he quickly learns that he’s not the only one trying to get the case.

The coin plays only a tiny part of a much bolder plot when he learns the case is somewhat heavy and actually contains classified files.  The contents reveal what really happened on April 4, 1968, the day of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination.

Since the story showcases Cotton Malone’s first mission, it creates a lack of suspense regarding his safety because readers know he will come out just fine.  So Berry has to create a compelling historical mystery with a terrific payoff to compensate — and he nails it.  To further his experimentation, Berry writes Malone’s story in first person rather than third person using multiple points of view.  Narrowing it to just Malone’s perspective makes the story tighter while providing a more insightful look into Berry’s hero.  It also makes it Berry’s most personal novel to date. (AP)