STEVE BERRY’S latest Cotton Malone adventure tells of a political intrigue involving the president of Poland, Janusz Czajkowski. Added to the plot is the mysterious disappearance of the seven precious relics of the Arma Christi, the weapons of Christ, stolen from sanctuaries across the world.
Former lawyer and American intelligence officer Malone who is now a bookseller, goes to Bruges, Belgium, for an antiquarian book fair. He’s then hired by a former boss, Stephanie Nelle to steal the Holy Lance from a castle in Poland. It is one of the seven Arma Christi relics that is the ticket of admission to a secret auction where various countries, including the US and Russia, will bid on incriminating information about Czajkowski, but for vastly different reasons.
Czajkowki had earlier refused to allow the US to build a missile system on Polish soil and US President Fox is one of several people who want the Polish leader out of the way.
Unfortunately, nothing goes as planned, and Malone is thrust into a bloody battle between three nations over information that, if exposed, could change the balance of power in Europe.
From the tranquil canals of Bruges, to the elegant rooms of Wawel Castle, to deep beneath the earth into an ancient Polish salt mine, Malone is caught in the middle of a deadly war, the outcome of which turns on a secret known as the Warsaw Protocol.
The story is fun, especially the interaction between characters like the smart and resourceful Malone and his friend, the Polish foreign intelligence officer Sonia Draga. Berry builds suspense superbly, allowing readers to anticipate the violence that eventually comes.
To a great extent, the novel pays homage to Poland, its culture, and its ability to survive so many invasions over the centuries. An exciting read.