cover image The Warsaw Protocol

The Warsaw Protocol

Steve Berry. Minotaur, $28.99 (384p) ISBN 978-1-250-14030-2

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. Agent: Simon Lipskar, Writers House. (Feb.)