I am proud to be the next stop on Steve Berry’s blog tour for THE KING'S DECEPTION! Read on for a review and then a Q&A with the author.
This is a very complex novel, but the ease with which Berry ties all factors neatly together marks a truly fascinating and engrossing read. What do Elizabethan times in British history, going from the reign of Henry VIII to Queen Elizabeth I and her successor, the return of one of the terrorists in the Pan Am Flight 103 bombing to Libya due to humanitarian reasons based on his terminal cancer, and questions of territory granted to Irish Protestants by Elizabeth I have to do with one another?
A possible answer to this is presented by Steve Berry in his latest Cotton Malone novel. Malone is returning to Denmark with his son Gary via a stopover in England. His previous employer, the CIA, has asked him to escort a teenager that fled England rather than endanger himself by providing facts about a murder he saw. Looks like an easy drop, with a delivery of the fugitive to British authorities than on to Denmark with Gary for a much needed father and son get together visit.
No such luck, the boy and Gary are kidnapped by persons unknown and Malone enters into the midst of a conspiracy involving the US CIA, the British equivalent of the FBI, a visit to Oxford University, exploration of London underground, and tours of the tombs of deceased British royalty interred in Westminster Abbey.
Steve Berry and his wife, Elizabeth, are fascinated by history and together founded a foundation called History Matters, which is dedicated to historic preservation. He incorporates his love of history with a great story featuring a theory about Elizabeth I changing the way she is featured, and based upon interpretation from writings of her contemporaries as well as an essay published by Bram Stoker, the creator of Dracula showcasing that change in view of her. The concept of a different Elizabeth I and what it could mean if true has the possibility of reshaping the UK. King's Deception is fiction, but a reading of certain facts presented by Berry in the course of the novel are sure to provoke the reception of new ideas and theories on the part of the reader.
In keeping with the formats of his last several books, Steve Berry's research into other times leads to alternative ideas of that period and I certainly look forward to his next novel.
--6/13 Paul Lane for the BookBitchBlog
1. Your latest novel, The King’s Deception, tackles quite a controversial conspiracy surrounding Queen Elizabeth’s real gender and identity. Do you believe the conspiracy is legitimate or did you just find it to be a fascinating premise for a novel?
I think its both possible and fascinating. The most wonderful fiction always has a ring of truth to it. Here, everything centers around the Bisley Boy legend. Three years ago, Elizabeth and I were north of London doing some publicity work for my British publisher when our guide told me about a local legend. In the village of Bisley, for many centuries on a day certain, the locals would dress a young boy in female Elizabethan costume and parade him through the streets. How odd. I then discovered that Bram Stoker, in the early part of the 20thcentury (the man who wrote Dracula), also heard the tale and wrote about it in a book called Famous Imposters, which I read. I then began to read about Elizabeth I and learned of many odd things associated with her.
2. What was so odd about her?
Elizabeth wore wigs all of her life. Heavy face paint all of her life. Clothes that did not flatter her body. She refused to allow doctors to examine her. When she died she left orders that there was to be no autopsy. Her number one duty as queen was to have an heir, yet she refused to marry, refused to have a child, and proclaimed herself the Virgin Queen. And then the strangest of all—when she dies they bury her with her sister, Mary, in the same grave so that their bones would mingle together. All of that adds up to to the fact that Elizabeth I was not exactly what she appeared.
3. Now I'm intrigued. What was the mystery?
The legend is that Elizabeth died at age thirteen and was buried in Bisley. Her governess was so afraid of Henry VIII’s wrath that she substituted a young boy in her place. The ruse worked and, once done, it could not be undone. Twelve years later the imposter became Queen and England and ruled 40 years.
4. Is there any way to prove that?
There is. Open the grave of Elizabeth I and do some comparative anatomy and DNA testing. That would answer the question. But Elizabeth's grave has never been opened. It’s one of the few royal tombs never breached. So I sent Cotton Malone, my recurring hero from 7 previous novels, to England to solve the mystery.
Visit the author's website at www.steveberry.org