cover image The Malta Exchange

The Malta Exchange

Steve Berry. Minotaur, $28.99 (416p) ISBN 978-1-250-21017-3

Bestseller Berry’s enthralling 14th Cotton Malone novel (after 2018’s The Bishop’s Pawn) finds former U.S. Justice Department operative Malone on a freelance assignment to retrieve long-lost correspondence between Benito Mussolini and Winston Churchill. Malone goes to Malta, the home of the Knights of Malta, an ancient order dedicated to serving the Vatican. The current pope has died, and Luke Daniels, who works with the Magellan Billet, the special investigations unit of the Justice Department that once employed Cotton, is also in Malta, investigating why Cardinal Kastor Gallo has fled Rome to the island nation. Kastor seeks the Nostra Trinità, the Catholic Church’s “ultimate secret,” to secure his ascension to pontiff. Luke and Cotton team with Laura Price, an agent with the Malta Security Service, and Pollux Gallo, leader of the Knights of Malta and Kastor’s estranged twin brother, to stop Kastor from seizing the throne of the Holy See. Fans of Dan Brown will have fun, and some may even prefer Berry’s action-oriented hero to Brown’s cerebral Robert Langdon. 400,000-copy announced first printing. Agent: Simon Lipskar, Writers House. (Mar.)