A retired spy tries to stop a madman from destroying the United States from within. Cotton Malone had thought he was out of the spy business. Since he retired several years ago, he moved to Denmark, bought a bookstore and even found a serious girlfriend. But when ex-boss Stephanie Nelle and asked him for a favor, it was the first step in a mystery that would nearly tear apart the United States. At first, Malone was just asked to see if he could track down a missing agent at a nearby island. But he ended up in a firefight in which he killed two men and he also was introduced to Luke Daniels, a spy who is also the nephew of the American President.
The men work for a mysterious billionaire named Josef Salazar, who turns out to be part of a plan that would allow Utah to succeed from the United States. Salazar is a Mormon and he and several like-minded conspirators have found previously hidden papers that would give the state the consitutional backing it needs to succeed. As Malone and Daniels track Salazar, they realize that he is spending time with Cassiopeia Vitt, a beautiful woman who was raised Mormon and once dated Salazar. But she turned her back on both of them and now she has been recruited by Nelle to watch Salazar and try and determine his plans.
At the same time, Utah Sen. Rowan is also making plans. He plans to be the state's president once they succeed and he is using his connections with fellow Mormons to cement his plans. He's convinced most of the state legislators to go along and he has used his congressional access to track down previously secret correspondence from Abraham Lincoln that bolsters the case for succession. But as the plan nears its end point, things begin to fall apart. Malone and Daniels follow Salazar to America and prevent him from getting the final clue he needs to track down the last document. And Sen. Rowan discovers that President Daniels is working with the head of the Mormon Church to stop the succession plan.
Sen. Rowan is excommunicated and loses his leadership role in the church. President Daniels uses Malone and Luke Daniels to retrieve some of the documents and keep them out of the public eye. Malone and Luke ultimately confront Salazar in Utah and are forced to shoot him. But Cassiopeia Vitt is also there and argues Salazar could have been taken alive. She's angry and refuses to speak to Malone. He returns to his bookselling business, permanently retired from the spy business (maybe). Luke Daniels gets a promotion and President Daniels rewards Malone for his service by sending him a rare book worth nearly $300,000.
Best scene in story:
There is a scene that takes place in a cave in Utah where a large cache of old had been stored in the years following the Civil War. The explanation of how the gold got there and what happened to it is worth the price of the book alone.
Opinion about the main character:
Cotton Malone is a traditional action hero in the best sense of the world. He isn't always right and he doesn't always win. But is always doing what he thinks is right.