Greg Iles @ The Poisoned Pen

Greg Iles’ concluding novel in his Natchez Burning trilogy, Mississippi Blood, has been on the New York Times Best Sellers list for several weeks now.

Mississippi Blood

Rather than summarize the book, you can watch Iles discuss it with Barbara Peters, owner of The Poisoned Pen, on Livestream.

Don’t feel bad if you didn’t make it to the program. Two hundred people did, and Iles offered them money to give up their seats.

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Signing copies of Mississippi Blood
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Barbara Peters and Greg Iles
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Ready for the in-person book signing
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The signing line

If you didn’t get to the event, you can still purchase a signed copy of Mississippi Blood through the Web Store.


Lisa Preston – An Interview

Once in a while, I get the chance to interview authors. Today, I’m talking with Lisa Preston, author of The Measure of the Moon.

Lisa Preston

Lisa, would you introduce yourself to the readers?

I am, of course, a lifelong reader and I wrote in childhood, starting with horse stories because I couldn’t find enough of them. I still write what I’d like to read: character-driven revelations, stories moved forward by interesting people in interesting situations.

Introduce us to Greer and Gillian from The Measure of the Moon.

Greer is a rural boy, the youngest child in a rowdy family, with five grown siblings. Gillian is a thirties-something photographer and film rescuer in Seattle who is dysphoric in her marriage to a good guy, and she needs to figure that out.

Measure of the Moon

Tell us about The Measure of the Moon, without spoilers.

As a whole, this is a novel about protecting the people you love. Moon explores childhood post-traumatic stress through parallel stories. The link between Greer and Gillian’s lives is a good guess for some readers, while other reviewers are gobsmacked. I love those different reactions to Moon.

The Measure of the Moon has some very dark elements. How do you escape from the dark side in your daily life?

Realistically, I think many of us aren’t free of those dark slices of life, but living through tough events with healthy choices makes all the difference. Bringing that hope forward in my novels lets the reader find a satisfying resolution.

Alaska and Washington. You’ve lived both places as an adult. What are your favorite spots to take visitors?

I love open country. I take friends to the trails and the big views, whether on the shore, looking up to my mountains, or high in the hills, gazing out to the sea.

You’ve been a paramedic and a police officer. What was the most unusual work experience that you can tell us about?

Those jobs make you clean up after some of the most shocking, heartbreaking and unbelievable human behaviors. Delivering secret babies was a challenge. There was a teen who’d successfully hidden her pregnancy from her parents, and a bathtub birth from a woman who’d hidden it from her husband. The latter call necessitated police protection for the woman and for us in the Fire Department. Death notifications I delivered as a cop are stuck in my memory, as are so many bizarre and ugly events that I expect most civilians really do not want to know.

What made you decide to write fiction?

I’ve always been a reader and loved great fiction. As a child, I’d pause after finishing a good story and want to give back the pleasure that the novelist lavished on me. I love the timelessness of good books.

What authors have inspired you?

The first was in childhood, when Mrs. Kendall read Wilson Rawls’s Where the Red Fern Grows aloud to our class. It was my favorite part of third grade. Hearing a wonderful story unfold lets the mind run free. I’ve read countless good works since then, with many more to come.

What author would you like to recommend who you think has been underappreciated?

With a nod to my friend Jo-Ann Mapson who recommended this novel to me, I suggest Joyce Weatherford’s Heart of the Beast, which deserved its wonderful reviews.

You attended Left Coast Crime in Hawaii. What was your favorite experience at the conference?

Honolulu Havoc was a hoot. I got to: say hi to Barbara and Robert; give a talk at the “˜Meet the New Authors’ Breakfast; co-host a banquet table with the lovely Catriona MacPherson; moderate a roaring panel featuring Doug Lyle, Patty Smiley, Ellen Kirschman, AK Gunn, Bette Lamb and John Burley; then speak on a panel about specialized police work.

The big serendipity of this year’s Left Coast, however, was discovering that the wonderful Janet Rudolph may have been my high school English and Humanities teacher! We’re still combing back through the dates, but she was on her first job where I went to school, at around the same time.

Thank you, Lisa. Lisa Preston’s website is

You can see the book trailer for The Measure of the Moon here.

You can order a copy of the book or the audio book through the Web Store.

Matthew Quirk @ The Poisoned Pen

Did you miss Matthew Quirk at The Poisoned Pen to talk about his latest novel, Dead Man Switch?

Dead Man Switch

Here’s the premise.

“WHEN IT COMES TO QUIRK, I FOLLOW A SIMPLE THREE-STEP PLAN: BUY, CANCEL PLANS, READ.” –Gregg Hurwitz, bestselling author of Orphan X and The Nowhere Man

Someone is hunting down America’s most elite special ops soldiers–in their homes.

A deadly fall on a rugged stretch of California coast. A burglary gone wrong in Virginia. These incidents seem unrelated, but the victims were living undercover, their true identities closely held secrets. They are members of a classified team, the last line of defense against foreign threats. Now, someone is assassinating them, one by one, taking out family members and innocent bystanders to make the deaths seem like accidents.

Captain John Hayes, a special operations legend, has left the military to settle down with his family. But when he pieces together a pattern behind the murders and discovers that his protégée Claire Rhodes, a brilliant assassin, is the prime suspect, he returns to duty to unmask the attackers.

With every success, the killers grow bolder. Their ultimate goal: Lure Hayes and his remaining fellow soldiers to Manhattan, to eliminate them all in a single devastating strike. To save his teammates and thousands of innocent lives, Hayes must find a way to stop a seemingly unstoppable weapon.

Dead Man Switch delivers nonstop twists, turns, and action in a high-stakes thriller about what happens when the fight abroad follows our covert operators home-and their painstakingly constructed double lives are shattered.

Because author Philip Kerr was in town, he attended the program. Some of the photos include both authors.
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Left to right – Philip Kerr, Barbara Peters, owner of The Poisoned Pen, and Matthew Quirk
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Signing Dead Man Switch

You can order a signed copy of Dead Man Switch through the Web Store.

Hot Book of the Week – Christina Kovac’s The Cutaway

Christina Kovac’s The Cutaway is The Poisoned Pen’s pick for “Hot Book of the Week”.


Here’s the description.

The Newsroom meets Gone Girl.“ —Cosmopolitan

The Cutaway draws you into the tangled world of corruption and cover-up as a young television producer investigates the disappearance of a beautiful Georgetown lawyer in this stunning psychological thriller, perfect for fans of Paula Hawkins and Gillian Flynn.

When brilliant TV news producer Virginia Knightly receives a disturbing “MISSING” notice on her desk related to the disappearance of a beautiful young attorney, she can’t seem to shake the image from her head. Despite skepticism from her colleagues, Knightly suspects this ambitious young lawyer may be at the heart of something far more sinister, especially since she was last seen leaving an upscale restaurant after a domestic dispute. Yet, as the only woman of power at her station, Knightly quickly finds herself investigating on her own.

Risking her career, her life, and perhaps even her own sanity, Knightly dives deep into the dark underbelly of Washington, DC business and politics in an investigation that will drag her mercilessly through the inextricable webs of corruption that bind the press, the police, and politics in our nation’s capital.

Harkening to dark thrillers such as Gone Girl, Luckiest Girl Alive, and Big Little Lies, The Cutaway is a striking debut that will haunt you long after you reach the last page.


Did it catch your attention? You can order The Cutaway through the Web Store.

Anne Hillerman @ The Poisoned Pen

Were you a fan of Tony Hillerman’s Leaphorn & Chee novels? If so, I hope you’ve discovered Anne Hillerman’s novels featuring Leaphorn, Chee and Manuelito. She’s on book tour for Song of the Lion.

Song of the Lion

Here’s the summary of the latest book.

A deadly bombing takes Navajo Tribal cops Bernadette Manuelito, Jim Chee, and their mentor, the legendary Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn, back into the past to find a vengeful killer in this riveting Southwestern mystery from the bestselling author of Spider Woman’s Daughter and Rock with Wings.

When a car bomb kills a young man in the Shiprock High School parking lot, Officer Bernadette Manuelito discovers that the intended victim was a mediator for a multi-million-dollar development planned at the Grand Canyon.

But what seems like an act of ecoterrorism turns out to be something far more nefarious and complex. Piecing together the clues, Bernadette and her husband, Sergeant Jim Chee, uncover a scheme to disrupt the negotiations and inflame tensions between the Hopi and Dine tribes.

Retired Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn has seen just about everything in his long career. As the tribal police’s investigation unfolds, he begins to suspect that the bombing may be linked to a cold case he handled years ago. As he, Bernadette, and Chee carefully pull away the layers behind the crime, they make a disturbing discovery: a meticulous and very patient killer with a long-simmering plan of revenge.

Writing with a clarity and grace that is all her own, Anne Hillerman depicts the beauty and mystery of Navajo Country and the rituals, myths, and customs of its people in a mystery that builds on and complements the beloved, bestselling mysteries of her acclaimed father, Tony Hillerman.


Barbara Peters, owner of The Poisoned Pen, interviewed Anne Hillerman for the program. We have several photos.

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Anne Hillerman with Patrick Millikin in the back room as she signs books.
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Entering the store for the event.
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Anne Hillerman and Barbara Peters

If you would like to feel as if you were at the program, you can watch it on Livestream.

And, don’t forget. Anne Hillerman did sign copies of Song of the Lion, so we have signed copies available through the Web Store.

Philip Kerr @ The Poisoned Pen

Did you miss Philip Kerr’s appearance at The Poisoned Pen? He’s at the end of his book tour for Prussian Blue.

Philip Kerr's Prussian Blue

Here’s the description of the book.

From New York Times““bestselling author Philip Kerr, the much-anticipated return of Bernie Gunther, our compromised former Berlin bull and unwilling SS officer. With his cover blown, he is waiting for the next move in the cat-and-mouse game that, even a decade after Germany’s defeat, continues to shadow his life.
The French Riviera, 1956: The invitation to dinner was not unexpected, though neither was it welcome. Erich Mielke, deputy head of the East German Stasi, has turned up in Nice, and he’s not on holiday. An old and dangerous adversary, Mielke is calling in a debt. He intends that Bernie go to London and, with the vial of Thallium he now pushes across the table, poison a female agent they both have had dealings with.

But chance intervenes in the form of Friedrich Korsch, an old Kripo comrade now working for Stasi and probably there to make sure Bernie gets the job done. Bernie bolts for the German border. Traveling by night, holed up during the day, Bernie has plenty of down time to recall the last time Korsch and he worked together.

It was the summer of 1939: At Hitler’s mountaintop retreat in Obersalzberg, the body of a low-level bureaucrat has been found murdered. Bernie and Korsch are selected to run the case. They have one week to solve the murder—Hitler is due back then to celebrate his fiftieth birthday. Lucky Bernie: it’s his reward for being Kripo’s best homicide detective. He knows what a box he’s in: millions have been spent to secure Obersalzberg. It would be a disaster if Hitler were to discover a shocking murder had been committed on the terrace of his own home. But the mountaintop is home to an elite Nazi community. It would be an even bigger disaster for Bernie if one of them was the murderer.

1939 and 1956: two different eras, seventeen years apart. And yet, not really apart, as the stunning climax will show when the two converge explosively.


If you missed the event, you might want to watch it on Livestream.

Or, you can check out the photos.

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The interview – Philip Kerr and Barbara Peters, owner of The Poisoned Pen

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Book signing

We have signed copies of Prussian Blue in the Web Store.

Steve Berry @ The Poisoned Pen

Steve Berry is on tour for his fifteenth book, The Lost Order.

Lost Order

Here’s the description from the Web Store.

The Knights of the Golden Circle was the largest and most dangerous clandestine organization in American history. It amassed billions in stolen gold and silver, all buried in caches across the United States. Since 1865 treasure hunters have searched, but little of that immense wealth has ever been found.

Now, 160 years later, two factions of what remains of the Knights of the Golden Circle want that lost treasure-one to spend it for their own ends, the other to preserve it.

Thrust into this battle is former Justice Department agent Cotton Malone, whose connection to the knights is deeper than he ever imagined. At the center is the Smithsonian Institution-linked to the knights, its treasure, and Malone himself through an ancestor, a Confederate spy named Angus “Cotton” Adams, whose story holds the key to everything. Complicating matters are the political ambitions of a reckless Speaker of the House and the bitter widow of a United States Senator, who are planning radical changes to the country. And while Malone and Cassiopeia Vitt face the past, ex-president Danny Daniels and Stephanie Nelle confront a new and unexpected challenge, a threat that may cost one of them their life.

From the backrooms of the Smithsonian to the deepest woods in Arkansas, and finally up into the mountains of New Mexico, The Lost Order is a perilous adventure into our country’s dark past, and a potentially darker future.


The discussion Berry had with Barbara Peters, owner of The Poisoned Pen, covered everything from Berry’s first book, The Amber Room, to his reason for changing the setting of his books.

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Steve Berry and Barbara Peters

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The signing line for The Lost Order

As fascinating as the program sounds, you might want to pretend you were there and watch it on Livestream.

Then, you can order a signed copy through the Web Store.

Sulari Gentill’s Australia

Tell me about the country that’s the setting for your books. I asked Sulari Gentill to talk about Australia because she had one of the most beautiful descriptions in an interview I did here. Gentill’s mysteries are set in the 1930s in Australia, and they feature wealthy Bohemian Rowland Sinclair. Her next book, Miles off Course, will be released in June. Thank you, Sulari.

Miles Off Course

The Snowy Mountains ““ Rowland Sinclair’s sojourn in the Australian high country

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The Hydro Majestic Hotel – where Miles off Course opens, and from the luxury of which I drag Rowland Sinclair to the Snowy Mountains.

Miles off Course was the third Rowland Sinclair Mystery to be released.  Rowland and I had, by time I began to write it, already come to know each other rather well.  We’d fought injustice and Fascism together through two books, I’d answered hundreds of questions about him in the press and at literary festivals and we’d talked often about his world, his time and the people he encountered.  We both knew we’d be working together for a long time yet and we were, as author and protagonist, firm friends.  It is probably not surprising then that, in this third book, I wished to bring him home to my neck of the woods, to meet the family, so to speak.  And so, Miles off Course is set in Snowy Mountains where I live.  
The Snowy has long had a place in Australian legend and folklore.  The High Country is where the great Murrumbidgee and Murray rivers begin— as trickles and streams of snow melt which gather into mighty movements of water on reaching the plains. This country is woven into the stories and traditions of our indigenous nations, the custodians of the Bogong plains and the lands around it.  They traversed these mountains for 60 000 years before the first white man, and it has become our custom to seek welcome by an elder and to acknowledge the traditional owners past and present when conducting any business on their country.

But the Snowy is also iconic in Australia’s short non-indigenous history, and in its literature.   Bush poets like AB (Banjo) Paterson wrote of it in verse:

…And down by Kosciusko, where the pine clad ridges raise

Their torn and rugged battlements on high,

Where the air is clear as crystal and the white stars fairly blaze

At midnight in the cold and frosty sky.

And where around the Overflow the reedbeds sweep and sway

To the breezes, and the rolling plains are wide,

The man from Snowy River is a household word to-day

And the stockmen tell the story of his ride.

– The Man from Snowy River (AB Paterson)

Australian stockmen have been taking cattle to Snow Leases to fatten on the sweet alpine grasses, for generations.  The cattle would be driven up in the spring and back again before the beginning of winter.  In this way Australia’s harsh dry summer in which feed often became scarce, was mitigated.   The stockmen would remain in the mountains with the stock, for months, living off the land and whatever supplies they took with them.  They built rough huts some of which still stand today.  They caught and broke brumbies, kept an eye on stock, and enjoyed the glorious freedom of the ranges.  And of course they drank at the Rules Point Hotel on Long Plain.

The guesthouse was a rustic construction, with a high pitched roof of corrugated iron. A wide verandah surrounded the main wing, around which were clustered smaller structures including a well, stables and, of course, the amenities. Rowland glanced at the last dubiously. He’d become accustomed to plumbing.

A round yard had been erected close to the guesthouse, with a rough bush fence which straddled the trees. There were a few horses within the yard. Several stockmen perched on the fence, and followed the yellow Mercedes with slow, hat-shadowed eyes.

““ Miles off Course


My son, Atticus, by the fireplace in one of the Coolamine mountain huts…. pretending to read Miles off Course.

Coolamine hut

Coolamine huts

Mrs. Harris

Mrs Harris who ran the Rules Point Guesthouse

I was, to be honest, initially unsure how Rowland Sinclair, in his beautifully tailored three piece suits, would adapt to the wilderness of the High County.  And I was more than a little alarmed that he intended to drive his 1927 Mercedes S Class on the unsealed mountain roads, but it seems both the people and the motorcars of the 1930s were particularly rugged.

They stopped to water the horses at one of the small streams which networked the plain. Their canteens did not yet require refilling as the day’s chill had kept thirst at bay. Many of the streams were just trickles, narrow enough to jump. Occasionally it was necessary to walk the horses through the cold water.

“Rowly, look!” Edna pointed excitedly. A lone young stallion appeared on the plain ahead. The muted sunlight glistened on its glossy black coat as it lifted its head, alert but unafraid. It studied them for a moment before turning and heading on, picking its way in a jagged line across the ground.

Moran pulled up his horse. “Bog.” He pointed. “The brumbies know how to get through it, but we’ll have to ride round. Could lose a horse if we get stuck.” He turned his mount west and motioned them to follow. The detour took them on a wide berth around the boggy ground. They picked up the fence line again and rode along it to the gate and, in doing so, rejoined the trail.

““ Miles off Course

High country


Hiking in the High Country

When Rowland and his companions venture into this region, it’s autumn.  The early settlers of these mountains planted oaks and ashes and lines of poplars in the towns bringing blazes of seasonal colour, but outside the boundaries of European settlement the native vegetation is evergreen, towering white-barked snow gums, gnarled and twisted by the extremes of temperature; Candlebark gums whose peeling bark provides an abundant and flammable tinder; and native bracken fern, lush and green in the undergrowth.  Higher there are few trees, and massive rocks stacked in strange precarious formations are remnants of a time when the snowline was lower.  The vagary of weather in the mountains is always unpredictable.  Storms build and break and pass with startling speed and intensity.

When the billy had boiled he swung it in a circle to settle the leaves and set it off the fire. “Give it a couple of minutes to cool.”

Rowland looked critically at the sky. It had turned a greenish grey. “We might not have a couple of minutes, Harry.” The clouds had gathered with extraordinary speed.

Simpson glanced up and nodded. “You’re not wrong, Rowly.” He frowned. “Try and drink some tea.” He wrapped the empty hessian bag around the billy and handed it to Edna. “We’re about to get wet.”

The rain, when it started, was an inundation. There was no introductory drizzle, just an immediate downpour. It seemed to fall in icy, almost horizontal, sheets, making it difficult to see. Very quickly the ground became slippery and they were soaked. Rowland pulled Edna to him as they stumbled after Simpson.

Despite its ferocity, the deluge did not expend quickly. The rain became hail and the landscape was soon netted with rivulets and streams.

They ploughed on through the mud, trusting that Simpson knew where he was going.

– Miles off Course

The High Country was gold country. All over these mountains there are races and digs built out of roughly hewn timber and hope.  Cemeteries on the slopes are a reminder that gold-fever was a multicultural contagion with Chinese graves lying beside German and British.  Dwellings dug into the hills mark the settlements of the Cornish who also came in search of riches in the ground.

My son, Edmund, exploring old gold mine at Adelong Falls.


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The original Kiandra cemetery ““ where old graves mark the lives of Chinese and German immigrants among the Australian born.

For over a century people have flocked to the limestone caves at Yarrangobilly, and guesthouses have catered to holiday-makers and sightseers.  The most elegant of these was Caves House which still operates today.  In the 1930s is was truly an island of civilization in the wilderness.

Caves House sprawled into the side of the mountain, a grand vestige of Federation civility against the rugged country that loomed around it. The limestone caves that attracted holidaymakers and honeymooners to the area were just a short stroll away, as were a myriad of mountain streams which offered the gentlemanly sport of fly-fishing to the well-to-do occupants of the guesthouse.

– Miles off Course

I have always used real historical figures in my novels and Miles off Course is no exception.  Amongst the most colourful is August Eichorn who once travelled these mountains selling his cure all potion (which is still available today).  A snake oil salesman in the truest sense, Eichorn would demonstrate the efficacy of his tincture by inviting all comers to bring snakes which he would allow to bite him before applying Eichorn’s Snakebite and Bloodpoisoining Cure.

The bar fell into a confused hush as Milton stared at the poised serpent.

“Don’t move,” Clyde warned.

There was a click as someone cocked a shotgun from atop the bar.

“For God’s sake…” Milton started.

“Don’t shoot! She’s one of mine.” A man stepped towards Milton. He was tall, his limbs long. A smart brown suit was tailored to his lean frame. The waistcoat was hung with a number of gleaming medallions, which jangled when he moved. His beard was grey and untamed, and seemed to have accumulated all manner of twigs and leaves. He held up a hand for quiet, and spoke to Milton “Just relax, son.”

Milton didn’t look exactly relaxed, but he didn’t move.

The man squatted, sweeping his hand slowly from side to side. The snake’s head followed, its glittering eyes caught by the movement. The bar remained hushed, expectant, mesmerized.

Milton cursed and rolled as the old man sprang and snatched the snake by the tail, holding it at arm’s length. The reptile writhed uselessly, harmless now.

– Miles off Course

Laurie Keenan

Rowland Sinclair also encounters Laurie Keenan in the mountains.  Now Laurie is not an historical figure in the strictest sense.  He was my neighbour, and was as he appears in the Miles off Course: irascible, irrepressible, bossy, good-hearted and wickedly-humoured.  Laurie had lived here all his life, and there are Keenans in all the towns hereabouts.  He took Michael (my husband) and I under his wing when we first moved here, convinced that we were “city slickers who had no idea what we were doing”.  He was right in a lot of ways.  In time, he taught my boys to use chainsaws and split wood, and how to swear, but never when ladies were present.  He told them tales of his life, some taller than others.  He took them out collecting firewood for the elderly and the frail, and insisted on calling Atticus, my youngest son, “Little Laurie”.  He passed away last year, but before he died he appointed his nephew to check in on us, to make sure we had wood in winter and had remembered to clean the chimney.  Because someone had to keep an eye on us.  Laurie typified the people of the mountains, sometimes rough, usually blunt, occasionally improper and truly kind.

Clyde introduced Rowland to Laurence Keenan, who managed the Long Plain Homestead. Keenan was an elderly gentleman who had a reputation for being willing to do anything for a price. He was a wily negotiator whose voice was none too quiet. He sized up the cut of both Rowland Sinclair and his suit, and decided the young man was not in need of a discount for the horses he wished to hire. Rowland was not concerned about the cost, but Clyde felt the need to intervene on principle. Aside from the issue of compensation, Keenan was unhappy with their plans to take Edna with them.

“The High Country is no place for women,” he warned. “The huts ain’t no gentrified country inn… all right for a bloke but it’s not somewhere I’d be takin’ my young lady! How’s a pretty lass like this going to be sleepin’ in a swag… in a camp full of men… it’s just not right… not proper.”

– Miles off Course

For me a sense of place is primarily about a sense of people and so Laurie just had to be a part of a book set in the High Country.  As much as I love this place, its landscapes, its weather, its history, I confess I love its people more.


And, I love Sulari Gentill’s descriptions of her Australia. You can pre-order a copy of Miles off Course through the Web Store.

Steve Berry Appearing at The Poisoned Pen

Steve Berry

You can order a signed copy of Steve Berry’s The Lost Order through the Web Store.

Curious? Here’s the summary.

The Knights of the Golden Circle was the largest and most dangerous clandestine organization in American history. It amassed billions in stolen gold and silver, all buried in caches across the United States. Since 1865 treasure hunters have searched, but little of that immense wealth has ever been found.

Now, 160 years later, two factions of what remains of the Knights of the Golden Circle want that lost treasure-one to spend it for their own ends, the other to preserve it.

Thrust into this battle is former Justice Department agent Cotton Malone, whose connection to the knights is deeper than he ever imagined. At the center is the Smithsonian Institution-linked to the knights, its treasure, and Malone himself through an ancestor, a Confederate spy named Angus “Cotton” Adams, whose story holds the key to everything. Complicating matters are the political ambitions of a reckless Speaker of the House and the bitter widow of a United States Senator, who are planning radical changes to the country. And while Malone and Cassiopeia Vitt face the past, ex-president Danny Daniels and Stephanie Nelle confront a new and unexpected challenge, a threat that may cost one of them their life.

From the backrooms of the Smithsonian to the deepest woods in Arkansas, and finally up into the mountains of New Mexico,  The Lost Order is a perilous adventure into our country’s dark past, and a potentially darker future.