The Bishop's Pawn (Cotton Malone #13)

The Bishop's Pawn (Cotton Malone #13)

Steve Berry


Again, my sincere thanks to John Sargent, head of Macmillan; Sally Richardson, who captains St. Martin’s; and my publisher at Minotaur, Andrew Martin. Also, a huge debt of gratitude continues for Hector DeJean in Publicity; Jeff Dodes and every-one in Marketing and Sales, especially Paul Hochman; Jen Enderlin, the sage of all -things paperback; David Rotstein, who produced the cover; Steven Seighman for the interior design work; and Mary Beth Roche and her innovative folks in Audio.

As always, a bow to Simon Lipskar, my agent and friend. And to my editor, Kelley Ragland, and her assistant, Maggie Callan, both of whom are wonderful.

A few extra mentions: Meryl Moss and her extraordinary publicity team (especially Deb Zipf and JeriAnn Geller); Jessica Johns and Esther Garver, who continue to keep Steve Berry Enterprises -running smoothly; Glenn Simpson, superintendent of the Dry Tortugas National Park, for showing me an extraordinary national trea-sure; Dan Veddern and Glenn Cox, who, over dinner in a French chateau, helped me work through the plot (it’s not exactly what we discussed, but it’s close); Melisse Shapiro and Doug Scofield for introducing me to Palm Beach; Wanda Smith, who made a -great case for the inclusion of Starke and Micanopy, Florida; and Grant Blackwood, novelist extraordinaire, for helping unstick me.

My wife, Elizabeth, once again was -there -every step of the way, pushing me along with this first incursion into the world of first person.

This book deals with courage and fortitude, so it’s only fitting that it be dedicated to a friend of ours who is currently -going through a tough strug-gle with cancer. It was something that sprang up out of nowhere, with no warning whatsoever. But instead of feeling sorry for herself or wallowing in pity, our friend has accepted the strug-gle and bravely faced the challenge head-on. Thankfully, she has a loving husband and four wonderful sons, all of whom are with her -every step of the way.

Elizabeth and I have no doubt she -will win the war.

In the meantime, this one’s for you, PJ.

They said one to another, behold here cometh the dreamer, let

us slay him and we shall see what will become of his dreams.

—Genesis 37:19–20


Present day

How ironic, I think, that this all started with a murder, and now it appears it might end with another.

I’ve been summoned to a famous address, 501 Auburn Avenue, Atlanta, Georgia. The house is a two-story Queen Anne with a porch, scroll-cut trim, porthole windows, and a gabled roof. Part of a neighborhood with a famous name. Sweet Auburn. Once the home of hardworking, middle-class, urban families, sixty years ago the neighborhood became the epicenter for a movement that ultimately changed the country. The African American couple who’d lived in this house had not wanted any of their children born in a segregated hospital, so all three arrived into the world right here. The first, a girl, Christine, came early, before a crib had even been found. So she spent the first few nights of her life in a chifforobe drawer. The youngest, Alfred Daniel, found the world on a hot July day. The middle child, a boy, born ironically in the middle room upstairs, appeared on January 15, 1929. They called him Michael, for his father. But five years later, after a trip to Berlin, the father changed both his and the son’s name to Martin Luther King, one senior, the other junior.

I’m standing in a quiet downstairs foyer. The invitation had arrived a week ago at my Copenhagen bookshop by regular mail, inside an envelope hand-addressed to me—Cotton Malone—and contained a note that simply read:

Fifty years have passed.

Bring them.

And then:

April 3. King house at MLK Center. 11:00 p.m.

With no signature.

But I knew who had sent it.

A few night-lights burn here and there in the darkened ground-floor rooms. Years ago, when I’d lived in Atlanta working for the Magellan Billet, I’d visited here one Sunday afternoon with Pam and Gary, a rare family outing of mother, father, and son. We’d taken a tour of the house, then walked the entire King Center, trying to impress upon Gary the importance of racial equality. Both Pam and I prided ourselves on not having a prejudiced bone in our bodies, and we wanted our son to grow up the same way.

I glance into the front parlor with its famous piano and Victrola. The guide that day had told us how King himself had taken music lessons on that keyboard. Not one of the middle child’s fondest childhood memories, if I remember correctly.

We’d also learned a few other things about Martin Luther King Jr.

He’d attended elementary and high school nearby, and college across town at Morehouse. In 1954 the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama, called him to be its pastor. But in 1955 when Rosa Parks was denied a seat in the front of the bus, for 381 days he led the Montgomery transit boycott. In 1957 he became president of the fledging Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Three years later he moved back to Atlanta and shared the pastor’s pulpit with his father at the Ebenezer Baptist Church, which still stands just down the street.

From there he evolved into the heart and soul of a great movement.

So many memorable speeches. Two massive legislative successes with the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts. A Nobel Peace Prize. Thirty arrests for the cause. All leading to Memphis and April 4, 1968, when an assassin’s bullet ended his life.

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