When seven relics believed to be the weapons of Christ begin disappearing from around the world, it’s up to Justice Department agent Cotton Malone and the rest of the gang from the Magellan Billet to figure out who’s behind the thefts, and what their endgame is.
Following the events of Steve Berry’s acclaimed 2019 novel The Malta Exchange, Malone is attending a rare book fair in Burgess when he witnesses one of the religious artifacts being stolen. Later on, he learns from his old boss and close friend Stephanie Nell that someone has sensitive information on Poland’s President Janusz Czajkowski, which will be sold off to the highest bidder at a private auction. But there’s a catch . . .
The price to gain entry to the auction itself is one of the relics.
That becomes a major point here, as both Russia and the United States are but two countries desperate to get their hands on the blackmail, though they have two very different reasons for trying to obtain the information.
President Czajkowski, it turns out, is the reason that the US can’t build a missile system on Polish soil, and American President Warner Fox (who is far more corrupt than his predecessor, Danny Daniels) is hell-bent on finding a way around Czajkowski, even if it means using said blackmail to strongarm him. With no other viable option on the table, Fox tasks Cotton Malone with stealing one of the remaining six relics and then crashing the auction—a risky move that, if it goes right, could finally lead to Fox finding his loophole around Poland’s line in the sand.
Malone’s target is the Holy Lance, the spear that is believed by Christians to have been used to pierce the side of Christ Jesus during the crucifixion, located in Poland. Getting to it won’t be easy, but neither will getting around with the relic in hand while trying to infiltrate the secret sale that’s set to go down. With his mission parameters set, Malone heads out to see the job through, hoping for a quick and straightforward adventure. Of course, he soon learns that he’s embarked on a journey that is anything but.
Caught in the middle of a deadly game that, if he’s not careful, could soon lead to war—Cotton Malone suddenly finds himself in the most dangerous and challenging position he’s ever faced.
Ever since The Lost Order (2016), Steve Berry has been operating on another level. While it’s rare to see an author hit their stride more than ten books into their already mega-popular series, Berry’s done just that—mixing hard-hitting action with intriguing, thought-provoking, and entertaining plotlines that pack a historical punch unmatched by anyone else in the genre.
Though he utilizes his growing cast of fan-favorite characters well, Berry introduces a few new ones here who readers will enjoy getting to know—like Sonia Draga, A Polish intelligence officer who holds her own and regularly steals scenes throughout. Then there’s President Fox, who is no Daniels, the former POTUS and a beloved member of the franchise, but flashes presence on the page even when he displaying questionable characteristics. Malone, who is as steady as ever, just can’t seem to leave the life of danger behind, no matter how hard he tries. That remains a great thing for readers, though, and with no signs of slowing down anytime soon, it’ll be interesting to see what else Berry has in store for his hero down the road—and how he’ll top himself next time around.
Packed with plenty of action, historical detail, and enough suspense to keep readers on the edge of their seats from start to finish, Steve Berry delivers another conspiracy-laden thriller that his fans will surely devour.
Author: Steve Berry
Series: Cotton Malone #15
Pages: 384 (Hardcover)
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Release Date: February 25, 2020
Book Spy Rating: 9.0/10
Praised as “One of the hardest working, most thoughtful, and fairest reviewers out there” by #1 New York Times bestselling author Lisa Scottoline, Ryan Steck has “quickly established himself as the authority on mysteries and thrillers” (Author A.J. Tata). Steck also works full-time as a freelance editor and pens a monthly thriller column for CrimeReads. For more information, be sure to follow him on Twitter and Facebook. He currently lives in Southwest Michigan with his wife and their six children.