Book 17 of the Cotton Malone series, “The Last Kingdom,” sees more supporting characters than I am used to in these books and makes me wonder how many more will be left in the series, as Malone himself openly thinks about slowing down. But for now he is assisting the Magellan Billet, and his protégé Luke Daniels, as we are in Bavaria and having a really interesting case involving the Mad King Ludwig II who was a dreamer and a tad bit whacky!!
The plot revolves around a possible deed that Ludwig obtained just prior to his death, and in which he allegedly received the title to land but which deed has never been discovered. The entire matter was shrouded in mystery and has been the subject of intense searches for over 100 years.
The action is continuous as we have the family of Ludwig trying to find this document to turn it into power and money, and quite possibly an independent Bavaria. But in order to obtain this we now have secret societies, the German government, the Chinese are hot in pursuit of the deed since it could provide untold riches, a governmental disorder and quite possibly a disaster for the US.
Plenty of action thanks to all the moving parts of this book, yet at times it is too much to keep everything straight. I like a lot of the newer characters that keep the plot moving, and is part of the reason that Cotton Malone is no longer a central figure in the Billet. Fascinating look at King Ludwig of Bavaria, his passions and his quirks (the man could have been bi-polar) and then the scavenger hunt to find the deed to the Last Kingdom.
A good book, one that Steve Berry was waiting to write for over 30 years, but for me something was missing, and that could be the fact that we have less Cotton Malone than in the prior books of this series.