Full Name: Harold 'Cotton' Malone
Nationality: American
Organization: Magellan Billet
Occupation Agent

Creator: Steve Berry
Time Span: 2007 - 2019

       Cotton Malone is an agent with the Magellan Billet.
       The Billet is a division inside the Justice Department that concentrates on international investigations. It is described as "twelve lawyers the Justice Department put together to do some very specialized things." While not spies per se, their assignments are world-wide, varied, exotic, and highly dangerous. Legal skills are by no means the only abilities Malone had to possess to last as long as he did. The cases these twelve are assigned take them into the most dangerous parts of the world, usually alone and relying only on their training and their wits. Knowing how to shoot and how and when to duck were required skills as well.
       As the series begins, Malone is a retired agent, having left the Billet at least a year before after over a dozen years working for it. Tired of the travelling and tired of people taking shots at him, he had moved to Copenhagen, a city he fell in love with during his travels. Using the good graces of a Danish billionaire who feels indebted to him, Malone has opened a rare book store. He had expected his exciting days, which cost him his marriage and for a while his son, were behind him. He was wrong.
       Malone is in his early 40s, having been a Navy JAG officer for several years when the offer to join the Billet came. He remains a tall, muscular man with full wavy hair of a light sienna color. He does not show outwardly the abuse his body has taken from his former profession but he feels it nevertheless.
       Whether it is continued friendship with his former boss or his association with the influential billionaire or his new closeness to a beautiful, rich, and deadly young woman with an exotic past, Malone is never at a loss of adventure even if he truly wants to stay in his book store and take things easy.


Number of Books:14
First Appearance:2007
Last Appearance:2019

1 The Templar Legacy The Templar Legacy
Written by Steve Berry
Copyright: 2007

When Cotton Malone sees a purse-snatcher through himself off a roof to escape capture, he is understandably curious. That inquisitiveness takes him deep into the world of the secret Knights Templar and a plot to change the course of history.

2 The Alexandria Link The Alexandria Link
Written by Steve Berry
Copyright: 2007

A wealthy mastermind believes Cotton Malone has something he wants and he kidnaps Malone's son to force the return. Unfortunately, Malone doesn't have it and isn't sure what it is.

3 The Venetian Betrayal The Venetian Betrayal
Written by Steve Berry
Copyright: 2007

The supreme minister of the Central Asian Federation has a plan to further his expansion goals by using a bioweapon to destroy Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan, even if it plunges the world into WWIII. Cotton Malone plans to stop him.

4 The Charlemagne Pursuit The Charlemagne Pursuit
Written by Steve Berry
Copyright: 2008

Cotton Malone learns his father's death in a sub accident years before was related to a search beneath Antartica for the same item hunted by Nazis during WWII. Now he wants to know what it was.

5 The Paris Vendetta The Paris Vendetta
Written by Steve Berry
Copyright: 2009

An American Secret Service operative turns to Cotton Malone for help when he is pursued by assassins hired by a group called the Paris Club, a secret cabal of wealthy businessmen out to manipulate the world's economy.

6 The Emperor's Tomb The Emperor's Tomb
Written by Steve Berry
Copyright: 2010

When Cassiopeia Vitt asks Malone to help on a mission to recover a priceless Chinese lamp, he is willing but neither know that two high ranking Chinese ministers, each vying for the top leadership spot, want the lamp and will do anything to get it.

7 The Jefferson Key The Jefferson Key
Written by Steve Berry
Copyright: 2011

A special code created by Jefferson two centuries before holds the answer to a conspiracy being unhatched by several powerful families in a plan to take over the country and run it the way they see as correct. Malone is determined to stop them.

8 The King's Deception The King's Deception
Written by Steve Berry
Copyright: 2013

Cotton Malone's son, Gary, finds himself in the middle of a conflict between the US and UK governments and ripe for the picking of a man who has his own agenda, one very deadly for the young Malone. As Cotton gets involved he comes across a mystery dating back to Elizabethan times.

9 The Lincoln Myth The Lincoln Myth
Written by Steve Berry
Copyright: 2014

A secret passed from President to President can destroy the nation if revealed. When it comes to President Lincoln, his decision about it is even harder. A century later, the facts are starting to come out.

10 The Patriot Threat The Patriot Threat
Written by Steve Berry
Copyright: 2015

There might be some issues with the legality of the 16th Amendment, legalizing income tax. North Korea gets involved in a scheme to cause considerable trouble for America and Cotton Malone's old boss asks for his help.

11 The 14th Colony The 14th Colony
Written by Steve Berry
Copyright: 2016

Learning that a Russian long hating the U.S. for the end of the U.S.S.R. is heading to Washington to use a flaw in the Constitution to bring down America, Cotton Malone is determined to chase him down and stop him.

12 The Lost Order The Lost Order
Written by Steve Berry
Copyright: 2017

"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 hidden caches across the United States." Malone discovers he has a connection to the group and is thrust into a fight between two remaining factions with radically different plans for the wealth.

13 The Bishop's Pawn The Bishop's Pawn
Written by Steve Berry
Copyright: 2018

Fifty years after James Earl Ray assassinated Martin Luther King, jr., Cotton Malone must deal with some facts that put a different spin on that event and it involves something that happened to Malone the first time he did an assignment for his old boss, Stephanie.

14 The Malta Exchange The Malta Exchange
Written by Steve Berry
Copyright: 2019

While looking for letters supposedly between Churchill and Mussolini, Cotton Malone gets entangled with a different search by a Catholic Cardinal seeking a document from the 4th century and the legendary Knights of Malta. The latter is a humanitarian organization but inside it is the Secreti, a small group with its own agenda.


Number of Stories:5
First Appearance:2010
Last Appearance:2017

0.2 The Devils' Due The Devils' Due
short story
Written by Steve Berry
Copyright: 2006

First published in the anthology Thriller, this tells of an early mission in Cotton Malone's career with the Magellan Billet which sends him to a small Asian nation to bring in the world's most infamous criminal who has had enough and wants to surrender.

1 The Balkan Escape The Balkan Escape

Copyright: 2010

As a favor to an old friend, Cassiopeia Vitt is in Bulgaria searching the mountains for a tomb of an ancient Thracian king. When she comes upon a mining operation run by Russians, though, she knows old artifacts are not the goal but she cannot just walk away without knowing the truth

2 The Devil's Gold The Devil's Gold
Written by Steve Berry
Copyright: 2011

He was called the Sphinx and he was an intelligence officer as hard to read as his namesake. Then his career fell apart and years later he blames two men, a man named Combs and Cotton Malone. He is out to destroy both.

3 The Admiral's Mark The Admiral's Mark
Written by Steve Berry
Copyright: 2012

Though Cotton Malone never had much use for his ex-father-in-law, the death of the man while scuba-diving gets the man's daughters certain foul play the cause and they pressure Malone into checking it out. The mystery leads to the hunt for the wreckage of the Santa Maria.

4 The Tudor Plot The Tudor Plot
Written by Steve Berry
Copyright: 2013

While working for the Justice Department, Cotton Malone is in London when he gets invited to meet with the Queen, learning that her son and grandson have been threatened and the man doing it may have been murdered. Malone is asked to find the truth.

5 The Devil's Bones The Devil's Bones
Written by James Rollins, Steve Berry
Copyright: 2014

First published as a story in Face-Off, this tells of a mad botanist with a new orchid hybrid that has toxins deadly to man. Both Guy Pierce and Cotton Malone are after him.

6 Past Prologue Past Prologue
Written by Diana Gabaldon, Steve Berry
Copyright: 2017

[plot unknown] Contained in the anthology MatchUp.


       Mr. Berry had already published several exciting thrillers when he tried his hand at a recurring character and I, for one, am glad he did. I love a good globe-trotting adventure and this terrific author has been kind enough to give me several.
       I like the character of Cotton Malone. I like his former boss. I REALLY like his female protege.
       I love the plots. I love the locales. I REALLY love the bad guys who have the indecency to be really good bad guys.
       I like this series. You probably figured that out.

Oh, I also liked reading a tip-of-the-hat in one book to James Rollins' series Sigma Force. And I liked another tip in Brad Thor's Scot Harvath series to this one. You made me grin, fellas. Thanks.


My Grade: A

Your Average Grade:   B

sl1m75 A 2018-09-17

zulutime C 2018-12-05

Just started on series with The 14th Colony. At times too much verbiage that makes you want to skip the lengthy portions of such. Will read others and again have an opinion.

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