This series is Steve Berry’s most popular, and it combines modern speculation with historical facts to create fantastic historical crime thrillers!
Steve Berry was a trial lawyer for years before he became an author. This career lasted over 30 years. It wasn’t until 1990 that Berry decided that he would write his first novel!
He wrote for 12 years and produced 8 different manuscripts before becoming a success. It took him 6 years before he got himself an agent!
Since then, he has developed into an award-winning and bestselling author! He has sold over 25 million copies of his books across the world in 52 different countries.
About Cotton Malone
Cotton Malone is a fantastic protagonist who has been written into many of Steve Berry’s novels. He is a great character who has a fascinating duality of character.
Cotton Malone is Steve Berry’s most successful series. Multiple books, spin-offs, and short stories follow this character!
Berry came up with the idea for Cotton Malone in a café in Copenhagen. In the story, Malone attempts to leave his past as a top-secret U.S. operative behind him and run a quiet life in a second-hand bookshop in Copenhagen.
This doesn’t go as planned, however, and his past life keeps catching up to him.
Cotton makes an enemy when he is cornered, and he becomes very conflicted. He finds himself rushing around the world to save the day!
Cotton’s personal life has left him with a failed marriage and a teenage son with whom his relationship is fairly difficult.
This series is made up of 16 full-length novels, alongside lots of short stories. In 2019, Waterman Entertainment acquired the rights to turn this series into a TV series.
Cotton Malone Books In Order
This article will list all of the Cotton Malone books in publication order, including the short stories and novellas that have been written about Cotton.
While Steve Berry has made it clear that each novel is able to stand alone, he has also noted that if you read the books in publication order you may see certain things reappear throughout.
This list looks at the books in publication order rather than chronologically. Chronologically, there are some changes in the order.
For instance, The Bishop’s Pawn discusses the first case of Cotton’s, so chronologically, it would take place before The Templar Legacy.
The Templar Legacy
This book was written in 2006 and it is the first book in the series. This book introduces Cotton Malone.
He is a retired U.S. operative who has decided to enjoy a quiet life as a book dealer in Copenhagen.
However, his past catches up with him and he is plunged into the world that he had previously left behind.
This story begins with a violent robbery attempt on one of Cotton’s former colleagues Stephanie Nelle.
She is on a mission that has placed her far from home. Some clues surrounding the armed robbery lead the team all over Europe, and there are some centuries-old clues included.
Cotton takes it upon himself to even the odds in this race, but the more he learns about the case, the more he realizes all of their lives are at stake.
Involved in this case is a discovery that will shatter the civilized world, and bring it to its knees!
- A thrilling story
- It has a slow ending
The Alexandria Link
Cotton Malone, who had previously retired from his high-risk job in the U.S. State Department. When he receives an anonymous email, everything changes for Malone!
The email says that Malone has something that the anonymous sender wants and that he’s the only person on earth who is able to help him find it.
The anonymous sender threatens to kill Malone’s child if they don’t get what they want.
When it is confirmed that Malone’s teenage son has been kidnapped, and his bookshop is burned to the ground, it becomes clear that they will do anything to get what they want.
The lost library of Alexandria is what they are looking for.
This library is filled with historical, literary, and scientific ideas. It was lost 1500 years ago and became a myth.
Now, some wealthy moguls are desperate to get their hands on the library, and only Malone can help them do this.
Malone travels around the world to find the answers that he needs, heading to both England and Portugal in order to save himself and his teenage son!
- Great historical research
- Slow at times
The Venetian Betrayal
This is the third book in the series. In this book, Cotton Malone has just narrowly escaped being incinerated in a fire that takes place in a Danish museum.
He learns from a friend that this fire was no accident and that fires like it had been occurring in lots of different buildings across Europe.
They were taking place as part of a campaign of arson. They were trying to mask something else.
From the ashes of these fires, a new Eastern European nation is born.
This nation’s ruthless leader will draw Cotton into a chess game against some very powerful people.
The prize for this game has very high stakes! The mummified remains of Alexander the Great lay in the balance.
They have been found in a tomb that was lost for more than two thousand years.
Both Cotton and Cassiopeia go on a hunt for the tomb. Depending on who finds this tomb, millions of people could be either destroyed or saved.
- Great history surrounding Alexander the Great
- Some holes in the story
The Charlemagne Pursuit
When Malone was a child, he was told that his father died in the North Atlantic in a submarine disaster.
Now, he learns that his father’s submarine was a nuclear vessel that was lost on a classified mission. It was lost underneath the ice shelves of Antarctica.
Two sisters, whose father was also on the vessel, are also looking to find out what happened on that submarine.
Dorothea Lindauer and Christi Falk know something that Malone doesn’t. It turns out that the Nazis explored Antarctica before the Americans did.
It turns out that Malone’s father’s death is all tied to a deep consequence for humankind.
Malone embarks on a very dangerous quest with the two sisters, revealing the truth behind his father’s death!
- Great historical fiction
- Distorts history at times
The Paris Vendetta
In this book, Malone wakes up to find someone has broken into his Copenhagen bookshop.
When he investigates, he finds that it is an American Secret Service agent who is being chased by assassins.
The two of them are involved in a firefight, and they escape to Malone’s friend Henrik Thorvaldsen’s secluded escape.
He has uncovered some plans that show some multimillionaires are trying to manipulate the global economy in the Paris Club.
Thorvaldsen is also trying to carry out his hidden agenda. This leaves Malone in a sticky situation where he is forced to choose between friend and country!
This novel begins in Denmark but moves on to England, and then Paris.
Malone is then forced into a desperate hunt for Napoleon’s legendary treasure that has been missing for hundreds of years.
- Keeps you engaged
- Great historical references
- Slow at times
The Balkan Escape (Short Story)
This short story sees an adventurer who is in a strange land, hunting for some lost treasure.
This adventurer is very much in harm’s way throughout the story, but who should he trust?
- Adds some background to the story
- Interrupts the flow of the novels
The Emperor’s Tomb
This story involves the tomb of the First Emperor of China. It is guarded by an army of warriors, and the tomb has remained sealed for over 2000 years.
This site is seen as one of the greatest archaeological sites in the world, but China won’t let anyone open it!
Cotton Malone is looking to answer this question! He receives an anonymous note that contains a web address.
When he logs in, he sees Cassiopeia Vitt. She is a woman who has saved his life a number of times.
This woman is being tortured at the hands of a man who wants the artifact that Vitt has asked Malone to keep safe.
However, Malone doesn’t know what the man is talking about, as she has never left him an artifact.
He begins the search to understand what the man means and experiences some historical revelations.
This story takes Malone from Denmark to Belgium to Vietnam and to China. There is a large amount of danger at every turn!
- Finished very well
- Slow Start
The Devil’s Gold (Short Story)
In this short story, we follow Jonathan Wyatt, a man who intelligence operatives struggle to predict.
He has been plotting and planning for 8 years to kill Christopher Combs and Cotton Malone.
He blames them for the loss of his career. However, he makes a discovery during his planning that takes him back to WWII, and a fortune of gold!
- Insight into the story
- Great characterization
- Feels rushed at times
The Jefferson Key
This novel looks back at the four U.S. presidents who have been assassinated.
These assassinations, occurring in 1865, 1881, 1901, and 1963 are seemingly unrelated, but they may all be linked to the same shocking reason.
The reason seems to be a clause that is contained in the US constitution.
Malone risks his life to figure out the truth and is faced with the Commonwealth, a secret society of pirates, and an American Revolution.
In their research, they come across a document that was written by the Founding Fathers that is strong enough to make the Commonwealth unstoppable!
- Intricate plot
- Some repetition
The Admiral’s Mark (Short Story)
This is a fantastic short story that gives you more insight into the world of Cotton Malone!
- More insight into the world
- Not directly related to the series
The Tudor Plot (Novella)
This is an eBook Novella. It follows Cotton Malone as he is lured into a dangerous situation with the most famous royals in the world.
It uncovers a murderous conspiracy of traitors and terrorists. This story is based on Saxon history.
- Fascinating history
- Too many ideas in one story
The King’s Deception
In this story, Malone and his son, Gary, head to Europe. Malone has agreed to do his former boss a favor, and escort a teenage fugitive to England.
When they arrive in London, the fugitive and his son, Gary, disappear. He again reveals that he is in the midst of a diplomatic showdown.
This is an international incident that has been caused by shocking Tudor secrets.
Nothing seems to persuade the British government to get involved apart from Operation King’s Deception! But will Malone get Gary out alive?
- Popular history
- Some gaps in the story
The Lincoln Myth
This Cotton Malone adventure involves a mystery surrounding Abraham Lincoln, an explosive political issue, and a flaw in the constitution of the U.S. Just another day in the life of Cotton Malone!
- Very enjoyable and engaging
- Some dense historical explanations included
Extenuating Circumstances (Short Story)
In this story, a therapist matches her wits against the wits of three different men of mystery. These men include Jack Reacher, John Rain, and Cotton Malone!
- Fun concept
- Slow at times
The Devil’s Bones (Short Story)
In this short story, two bestselling authors: James Rollins and Steve Berry, team up with their characters Gray Pierce and Cotton Malone!
- Great idea
- Very well thought out
- Two worlds colliding
The Patriot Threat
In this novel, Cotton Malone is found to be racing to stop an ex-KGB agent from carrying out revenge against the United States.
There are problems found with the Amendment to the Constitution which is why Americans pay income taxes.
These problems throw into question years of tax collecting.
Don’t worry, though, Cotton Malone is on the case!
- Great read
- Complicated history
The 14th Colony
In this Cotton Malone Thriller, both the president and vice-president-elect die before they have taken the oath of office.
Political chaos ensues. Meanwhile, Cotton Malone is shot down over Siberia.
He is then forced to go head-to-head with Aleksandr Zorin, a man who has loyalty to the Soviet Union.
Before her escape, Malone learns that Zorin and another ex-KGB officer are headers to Washington on Inauguration Day.
- Difficult to follow
The Lost Order
This is the 12th book in the series of Cotton Malone stories. The Knights of the Golden Circle was the most dangerous organization in American history.
It amassed billions of stolen silver and gold which were all buried and hidden in the US.
Since 1865, the treasure hunters have searched for the treasure, but nothing has been found.
Now, two different actions of Knights want this treasure, but for different reasons. One wants to spend it, and the other wants to preserve it.
Cotton Malone finds himself thrust into this battle as he has a personal connection with the knights. Angus Adams, an ancestor of Malone’s, holds the key to everything.
- A fantastic read
- Based on American politics
- Inaccurate at times
The Bishop’s Pawn
In The Bishop’s Pawn, the stories of Cotton Malone continue. The feud between J. Edgar Hoover and Martin Luther King is at the center of his story.
It is marked by years of secret files and surveillance. Martin Luther King was assassinated in 1968 by James Earl Ray.
However, Cotton Malone doesn’t believe this is the situation’s truth. He wants to find out what really happened that day.
This all brings back something that happened 18 years ago when Malone is trying to reject his reputation as a maverick.
He jumps at an opportunity to prove himself, and they find some information in the previous case that might help with this one.
- Important history
- Well written
- Difficult to follow
The Malta Exchange
This novel sees a race to the Vatican’s oldest secret unfold. The pope has died, and there is about to be a conclave that will determine his replacement.
In the meantime, Cardinals are starting to arrive at the Vatican. However, one has fled from Rome in search of a document. This Cardinal finds himself in Malta.
Cotton Malone is in Italy. He is on the trail of Winston Churchill and Benito Mussolini who disappeared in 1945.
However, he is after the same letters as someone else. This leads him to a hunt for the letters, and whoever gets there first may change history!
- Twists and turns
- Great mix of facts and fiction
- Against Catholicism
The Devils’ Due (Short Story)
This short story is fantastic. It is a history with a twisted thriller that explores one of Cotton Malone’s earlier missions.
This comes from a time when Malone was employed as one of the twelve agents of the Magellan Billet.
He embarks on a mission in a central Asian country that is run by Yossef Sharma. He has a strong alliance with the US that must be kept secret.
Sharma is a book burner, and Malone really dislikes this mission. Malone finds himself connected to an infamous criminal who is hoping to surrender.
However, things are not as they seem and Malone needs Sharma’s help to put things right!
- Great read
- Page turned
- This is not a full novel
The Warsaw Protocol
This is one of the later novels in the Cotton Malone series.
In this story, the precious relics of the Arma Christi are disappearing one by one from sanctuaries around the world.
Cotton Malone witnesses the theft of one of them.
After this, he finds out that a private auction will be held where incriminating information on the president of Poland will be given to the person willing to bid the highest.
Both the US and Russia want this information.
In order to enter the auction, one of the relics is needed, so Malone has to get his hands on a thousand-year-old spear. This spear is sacred to Christians and the Polish people.
However, as usual, this doesn’t go to plan. Malone finds himself thrust into a battle that could change the balance of power across Europe.
Malone is caught in the middle of this war.
- Great settings
- Complicated to follow at times
The Kaiser’s Web
In this novel, a secret that is held from the WWII era comes to light. This information is very powerful, and it has the potential to rewrite history.
It could impact Germany’s upcoming elections, and change Europe’s political landscape.
In this book, two different candidates are attempting to win the Chancellor of Germany title.
One has served for the last 16 years, and the other is a usurper who is encouraging nationalistic hate.
Both of these candidates have their own secrets. They are all leading up to April 30th, 1945.
This book looks into whether Adolph Hitler died in the bunker beneath Berlin that day, and whether Martin Bormann managed to escape.
As well as this, this novel questions where the wealth of the Nazis went following WWII.
The answers to these all-important questions will determine who is to become the next chancellor of Germany.
This sees Malone travel through South Africa, Switzerland, and many other places in an attempt to find out the truth of what happened that night.
What he discovers may transform Europe and expose the Kaiser’s web.
- Lots of twists and turns in this story
- Great historical facts
- Some holes in the story
The Last Kingdom
In this book, you will experience the latest adventure with Cotton Malone.
In this story, we see the discovery of a historical document that will challenge the strength of the US forever.
King Ludwig II was the king of Bavaria who was deposed in 1886. He then died three days later.
Ludwig was a very eccentric character and in the years leading up to his death, he was searching for a new kingdom where he could escape to if he wished.
Everyone thought he had failed, but did he succeed?
Cotton Malone wants to find out! He and his protege Luke Daniels have managed to infiltrate a group looking to win Bavarian independence from Germany.
They have the trust of the prince of Bulgaria, too.
The pair look for clues that may be hidden in Ludwig’s castles, and they put their life on the line to find out where the last kingdom lies!
- Very exciting plot
- The story can get repetitive at times
You should now have all the information that you need on the Cotton Malone series! These books have been explored in the publication order above.
Steve Berry is a fantastic author who has successfully combined historical facts with a modern twist.
Time and time again, Cotton Malone will have to leave his quiet bookshop behind in Copenhagen in order to save the fate of the world!
If you are a lover of history, crime, and secrets, then this series is definitely for you. Now that you are aware of the correct order to read these books, there is no excuse!
What’s stopping you from getting started on this fantastic series?
Frequently Asked Questions
How Many Books Are There In The Cotton Malone Series?
There are 17 books in this series so far. There are also some novellas and short stories that link to the series.
These books are very successful and very popular. They can be read as standalone books as well as part of a series.
Who Wrote The Cotton Malone Series?
Steve Berry is the author of the Cotton Malone series. He wrote all of the books that include this much-loved character.
He got his inspiration for this story from a coffee shop in Copenhagen. The bookshop that Cotton Malone opens to escape his past is also located in Copenhagen.
Who Is Steve Berry?
Steve Berry was born in 1955. He was an attorney and later became an American author.
He is now living in St. Augustine, Florida. Berry attended Mercer University’s Walter F. George School of law. He worked as a trial lawyer for over 30 years.
When he became an author, he also became a founding member of the National Thriller Writers. This is a group of over 4200 writers. He was the co-president of this group for three years.
What Awards Has Steve Berry Won?
In 2012 and 2013, Steve Berry’s work was recognized by the American Library Association. This recognized the work that Berry has done in historic preservation.
He has also achieved the Royden B. Davis Distinguished Author Award and the 2013 Barnes and Noble Writers for Writers award. He received the Silver Bullet in 2013 for philanthropic work.
He has won lots of awards for his impact on both literature and history, and he is very well known for lots of his novels.
Lots of his Cotton Malone novels made it onto the New York Times bestseller list.
How Many Books Has Steve Berry Written?
Steve Berry has written many other novels on top of the Cotton Malone series. These include 5 standalone novels.
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