In New York Times bestseller Steve Berry’s next Cotton Malone adventure, one by one the seven precious relics of the Arma Christi, the weapons of Christ, are disappearing from sanctuaries across the world.
After former Justice Department agent Cotton Malone witnesses the theft of one of them, he learns from his old boss, Stephanie Nelle, that a private auction is about to be held where incriminating information on the president of Poland will be offered to the highest bidder—blackmail that both the United States and Russia want, but for vastly different reasons.
The price of admission to that auction is one of the relics, so Malone is first sent to a castle in Poland to steal the Holy Lance, a thousand-year-old spear sacred to not only Christians but to the Polish people, and then on to the auction itself. But 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.
With his 15th Cotton Malone novel (after 2019's The Malta Exchange), bestseller Berry once again shows there's no working author more skilled at combining thrilling adventure with engrossing historical detail. Ex-operative Malone is in Bruges, Belgium, for an antiquarian book fair when he stumbles onto the theft of a religious artifact, one of a string of international burglaries of the Arma Christi, seven holy relics of the Passion of Christ. Stephanie Nelle, head of the Magellan Billet, Cotton's former Justice Department agency employer, and Tom Bunch, a feckless adviser to corrupt U.S. president Warner Fox, task Cotton with stealing one of the remaining relics as the entrance fee to an exclusive illicit auction of Soviet-era material intended to blackmail Poland's president. Cotton, a reluctant but stalwart hero, is thrust into a deadly bidding war that could disrupt the fragile power balance between America and Russia. Berry seasons the plot with fascinating lore and vivid locations, as informative as any textbook. If only textbooks were this exciting.
Solid, not great. Loved the Polish/Slovakia references
Another standard recipe for Steve Berry and Cotton Malone—but this time introducing readers to Bruges and key historical sites in Poland. Enjoy learning some historical information on international locations—but why not introduce or talk at all about the Palace of Culture in central Warsaw? That seems ripe for some cool spy angle... All in all, a good 3-day read!
Sad representation of the series
Definitely the worst of the series. No real plot twist and Cotton doesn’t even have to think to get through this one. Seems all authors of this genre have a bone to pick with the former president and this just seems cheap compared to the rest of the novels. I may read the next one but this was so much different than all the rest it makes me wonder if the author even wrote this one. I guess after enough novels in a series this is inevitable, see Allon and Reacher for similar examples of poor writing late in the series. I love the history and puzzle solving in this series and this seemed a sophomoric representation of whet the series represents to me.
Great historical information tied neatly into intrigue and excitement.