This novel is a history lesson wrapped around a thriller injected with steroids. 

In The Warsaw Protocol (Minotaur Books), 15th in the Cotton Malone series, author Steve Berry uses the backdrop of Poland’s battle against Communism and the legacy of Christian relics to create a story of bribery, blackmail and the fight for justice.

The story begins when former U.S. operative, Cotton Malone, stumbles into a scheme to blackmail Janusz Czajkowski, the President of Poland. Global information peddler, Jonty Olivier, has purchased proof of espionage that he will auction to the highest bidder — whichever country has the most to gain by wrapping Czajkowski in a political chokehold.

Cotton Malone hates it when two plus two equals five, or worse, 900. The clues don’t always add up as neatly as he’d like. He’s supposed to be retired. After leaving his position with The Magellan Billet — a covert security enforcement division of the U.S. Department of Justice — Malone happily celebrates his inner bibliophile by operating a rare-book store in Copenhagen. But during a book-buying trip to Brussels in which he also hopes to have a little downtime — and feast on his favorite Belgian White Lady ice-cream sundaes — his intentions are interrupted when he witnesses the theft of a priceless Christian relic, The Holy Blood, from the basilica in Bruges. Suddenly, he’s in pursuit. After years being a U.S. operative, he can’t just ignore a crime that happens right in front of his eyes. 

The current President of Poland, Janusz Czajkowski, is an icon of Polish democracy. But back in the 1980s, when the country was “held together by force and propaganda,” the Communist regime coerced him into working with them — it was the only thing resisters could do. But he was also covertly involved in the Polish Solidarity Movement’s counterintelligence program. Now Czajkowski knows the difference between revolution and resistance, and he’d been part of both. But as with everything, it came with a price.

Czajkowski had been naïve to believe the past was dead. He favors Napoleon’s statement: “If we open a quarrel between past and present, we shall find that we have lost the future.” But the past surfaces anyway.

A SECRET THAT COULD SEND A COUNTRY INTO CHAOS

Now an underground information vendor, Jonty Olivier, has purchased documents that prove his involvement with the Communist-era persecutors — documents that can be used against him by foreign governments. He must do whatever is necessary to prevent the morally deficient President of the United States from blackmailing him to install the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System on Polish soil. 

Olivier is nondescript in everything but one — information peddling. Living by his motto “Knowledge Is Power,” he’s devised a scheme worth hundreds of millions of dollars that will pit world superpowers against each other in an auction for information that could change Poland’s position on the global stage. And as a bonus, each country attending the auction must bring one of the seven Arma Christi relics, the “weapons of Christ,” which Olivier will sell for a fortune. 

Malone must steal The Holy Lance from a Polish castle as admission to the auction, but he’s not prepared for what he finds. Can Malone stop the plot to blackmail the Polish president, which would throw Poland into chaos?

From the ornate Basilica of the Holy Blood in Bruges, Belgium, to the labyrinthine Wieliczka salt mine in Poland, Berry pumps the veins of history with action-packed adrenaline of global espionage and intrigue. While disclosing the history of the Communist choke-hold on Poland and the country’s rise to democracy, The Warsaw Protocol makes readers consider what we should tolerate in a nation’s battle to be free.

For both history buffs and those craving the chronicles of our past, in his Writer’s Note, Berry details his experiences touring Poland and his research, and has appreciatively provided correlating chapter references to where he has both woven-in historical facts and added fictional embellishments. 

Berry’s passion for the past dares readers to consider its implications for our future. As he will tell you, history really does matter.

The Warsaw Protocol is now avaialable for purchase. Read more about Steve Berry on his BookTrib author page.

STEVE BERRY is the New York Times and #1 internationally bestselling author of the Cotton Malone adventures and other thrillers. His books have been translated into 40 languages with more than 22,000,000 copies in 51 countries.  They consistently appear in the top echelon of The New York TimesUSA Today, and indie bestseller lists. History lies at the heart of every Steve Berry novel. It’s his passion, one he shares with his wife, Elizabeth, which led them to create History Matters, a foundation dedicated to the preservation of endangered historic treasures. Among his honors are the Royden B. Davis Distinguished Author Award; the Barnes & Noble Writers for Writers Award given by Poets & Writers; the Anne Frank Human Writes Award; and the Silver Bullet, bestowed by International Thriller Writers for his philanthropic work. Steve was born and raised in Georgia, graduating from the Walter F. George School of Law at Mercer University. He was a trial lawyer for 30 years and held elective office for 14 of those years. He is a member of the Smithsonian Institution Libraries Advisory Board and is a founding member of the International Thriller Writers association.