"The Lost Order" (Minotaur), by Steve Berry
"The Lost Order," Steve Berry's latest Cotton Malone adventure, combines the history of a secret society with a look inside the Smithsonian Institution — and it's terrific.
Before the Civil War, an organization known as the Knights of the Golden Circle worked behind the scenes to try and establish a separate country. When war broke out, those plans were snuffed and a peaceful solution to achieve the group's goals was thwarted. The vast amount of wealth in the group's clutches disappeared and most of it was never found.
In the present, former Justice Department agent Cotton Malone is recruited to go on a treasure hunt to find the missing loot, assuming the vast treasure even exists. What Malone doesn't realize is that the group, considered defunct, is still in operation, and protections are in place to insure the treasure is never found. To complicate matters, two factions of the organization are working to achieve different goals: One wants to keep the status quo while the other wants the funds to achieve a radical change. Malone is linked to everything, including a distant relative who was a spy for the Confederacy.
Berry's fans will love his latest endeavor as he brings more detail into Malone's past and how he came to be known as Cotton. The villains are a bit over the top, and their ultimate goal is somewhat confusing, but it doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things. Berry has written another gripping novel.