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Shot down over Siberia, ex-Justice Department agent Cotton Malone is forced into a fight for survival against Aleksandr Zorin, a man whose loyalty to the former Soviet Union has festered for decades into an intense hatred of the United States.

Before escaping, Malone learns that Zorin and another ex-KGB officer, this one a sleeper still embedded in the West are headed overseas to Washington, D.C. Noon January 20th–Inauguration Day–is only hours away. A flaw in the Constitution and an even more flawed presidential succession act have opened the door to disaster, and Zorin intends to exploit both weaknesses to their fullest.

Armed with a weapon left over from the Cold War, one long thought to be just a myth, Zorin plans to attack. He’s aided by a shocking secret hidden in the archives of America’s oldest fraternal organization–the Society of Cincinnati–a group that once lent out its military savvy to presidents, including helping to formulate three plans to invade what was intended to be America’s 14th colony–Canada.

In a race against the clock that starts in the frozen extremes of Russia and ultimately ends at the White House itself, Malone must not only battle Zorin, he must also confront a crippling fear that he’s long denied but which now jeopardizes everything.

(Synopsis from Minotaur Books hardcover 2016 edition; cover image from Goodreads)

The 14th Colony by Steve Berry is the 11th book in the Cotton Malone series. Apparently April must be the month that I read Steve Berry novels, because last April I published my review of The Patriot Threat (You can read that review here). As I’ve mentioned before, I always enjoy reading historical fiction novels and Steve Berry does a great job of incorporating historical legends or pieces of history into his novels. (To see a list of the books I’ve read so far, visit my 2016 Books page.)

Many of the Cotton Malone books have taken readers to different places around the world, but both The Patriot Threat and The 14th Colony use history from the United States to drive the action of the novel. I also found the timing of The 14th Colony to be really interesting in relation to our current lives because of the upcoming presidential election. The hypotheticals that Berry presents in the novel were extremely thought-provoking and made me wonder more about the Constitution and the presidential succession line.

The 14th Colony really intrigued me by also ting in different parts of our history to this one upcoming moment in the novel. Cotton Malone finds himself involved in trying to stop an ex-KGB officer, Alexandr Zorin, from carrying out a plot against the United States. Zorin was a high ranking KGB officer who was trained to know the weaknesses of the United States during the Cold War. However, after the war ended, Zorin went into hiding. Despite keeping a low profile in Siberia, Zorin still held a grudge against the United States for taking away the life he excelled at and the stability of the world he had grown up in. To help Zorin seek his revenge he not only looks to long-forgotten Soviet weapons, but also to America’s history.

Zorin enlists the help of his lover to help him find the secret held by the Society of Cincinnati.  The Society of Cincinnati has been holding on to secrets of the United States since just after the Revolutionary War. Two of these secrets would allow Zorin to disrupt the peace of the United States and throw the entire country in to chaos if he is able to succeed. In order to keep Zorin’s plan from coming together, the current president’s nephew, Luke Daniels, must trail Zorin’s lover to see what information she is trying to get. As Malone falls into a political battle on the other side of the world, a friend from his past comes to his aid as he tracks Zorin across the globe.

Steve Berry has once again created a thrilling mystery using history in his latest Cotton Malone novel, The 14th Colony. If someone, like me, enjoys reading historical fiction novels, this is a great book to read. Even if you haven’t read the other Cotton Malone books in the series, Berry does a great job of explaining who each character is and how they all relate to one another. I am left waiting to see what Steve Berry’s next book will be…