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by Steve Berry
Ballantine, May 2014
448 pages
ISBN: 0345526570

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

In 1861, Abraham Lincoln receives a secret message passed from president to president. In modern day, the soon to be new head of the Mormon Church also receives a secret message passed down from leader to leader. How are these two secrets related? And what do those secrets have to do with the kidnapping of an American agent in Europe, the Civil War and the United States Constitution? THE LINCOLN MYTH, the latest entry in Steve Berry's long running Cotton Malone series, explores these possibilities.

Writers of thrillers need to be able to take a fairly farfetched plot, load it up with swashbuckling action between a hero and his nemesis - often with a mutual love interest thrown in and bring the reader home with a satisfying conclusion. Berry consistently does all of that; in addition he adds obscure historical facts which make the plots both slightly more believable and often sends readers scurrying to Google to check the author's facts.

At the center of this plot is that the US Supreme Court's ruling way back in the 1869 case of Texas vs White (the case where Texas attempted to secede from the United States) was wrong because it was based on faulty facts and an inaccurate interpretation of the Constitution. To make things more interesting, the idea that Lincoln was not particularly interested in freeing the slaves, but rather that the preservation of the Union - at any cost - was the basis for the Civil War. Oh, and one last thing - the Mormon leadership may have had knowledge of the documents to prove these points ever since the Civil War. At this point the thriller element cranks up. Cotton Malone is called out of retirement to go chasing after Josepe Salazar, a devout Mormon. What are they after? What is at stake? As readers follow Cotton, some of these answers will become clear while twists in the plot leave readers guessing about the final outcome until the end.

THE LINCOLN MYTH is the ninth Cotton Malone book. While many the characters carry over throughout the series and Cotton's personal life progresses from book to book, each plot stands completely on its own leaving readers free to pick the books that deal with a historical era, place or person that interests them. In this case, history buffs interested in the Civil War, Lincoln, Mormonism or the Constitution will find this a book that raises some interesting "what ifs." Of course fans of Cotton Malone are in for a summer treat.

Caryn St.Clair resides in University City, Missouri and is a former elementary school media specialist, President of the Parks Commission and a docent at the St.Louis Zoo.

Reviewed by Caryn St Clair, June 2014

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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