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The Warsaw Protocol

Review

The Warsaw Protocol

Prolific writer Steve Berry has been creating intelligent, top-shelf fiction for decades. His thrillers take readers on a journey both through the pages of history and directly into the middle of international intrigue. It's as if Dan Brown met James Bond. His novels are always a dizzying thrill ride, and his latest, THE WARSAW PROTOCOL, is no exception.

The action begins with a prologue set in the year 1982. We are in Warsaw, Poland, at Mokotów Prison, one of Poland's most notorious sites, where we witness some of the worst horrors to which people can subject others. A formidable man named Dilecki steps in to help in the torture of a naked prisoner. As far as he’s concerned, this is a case of those in power keeping power. Dilecki is a proponent of Communism, and its entire existence depends on coercion. As he finishes his sickening round of attacks upon the helpless individual, he chants to himself the Polish national anthem, which includes: Poland has not yet perished, so long as we still live. What the foreign force has taken from us, we shall with sabre retrieve. The Warsaw Protocol is firmly in the captor’s mind here, and its effects will be seen in the book’s present-day portion.

"[Steve Berry's] thrillers take readers on a journey both through the pages of history and directly into the middle of international intrigue. It's as if Dan Brown met James Bond. His novels are always a dizzying thrill ride, and his latest, THE WARSAW PROTOCOL, is no exception."

The first chapter opens with a great line: “Cotton Malone hated when two plus two equaled five.” For those who are unfamiliar with Cotton Malone, he is Steve Berry's favorite character, and we all know he is so much more than the Danish bookseller he appears to be. His background includes time spent in the U.S. Armed Forces, followed by a career as a Justice Department agent. As a result of this skillset, he often works with and for Stephanie Nelle of the Magellan Billet.

We find Malone already pulled away from the antiquarian book business and in the middle of a theft at a Belgian basilica. A trio of thieves he nicknames the Three Amigos escape with an ancient religious artifact --- the vessel that held the Holy Blood of Christ. Malone is put on this assignment because someone is behind the theft of items that belong to the Arma Christi, the weapons of Christ, including the Crown of Thorns, the Wood of the Cross, the Nails and the Holy Lance. A total of seven precious relics allegedly were taken from Jesus Christ following his crucifixion. It's obvious that some person, group or country wants all of them for a reason, which is what Malone needs to discover --- in addition to preventing the final two items from being stolen.

It is shortly revealed that President Czajkowski of Poland is one of the few world leaders who is after the Arma Christi, as he sees Poland as the Jesus Christ of Nations. Czajkowski is not only seeking re-election, but is battling the threat of the U.S. placing missiles on Polish soil. Russia and Iran are very interested in preventing that eventuality and could be players in the race for the seven weapons of Christ. Chapter 26 may be my favorite section, but there's so much to like throughout the novel, as Malone has a clandestine meeting with Tom Bunch, a member of President Warner Fox’s staff, in a cafe in Bruges. Malone has nothing but disdain for the standing President, and as he is bad-mouthing him, the crafty Bunch points to his cell phone to indicate that Fox has been listening in on everything they have been saying. This is a great bit of political posturing that closely resembles the current White House.

The remainder of THE WARSAW PROTOCOL is a whirlwind of activity all in and around Eastern Europe, which impacts the political potboiler that is spilling over. The Polish President seeks to uphold the Warsaw Protocol, which allows solidarity to continue to function without the prying eyes of government. It's not an end-of-the-world scenario, but whenever you're dealing with ancient religious artifacts and the global arms race, you're not too far from it.

Reviewed by Ray Palen on February 28, 2020

The Warsaw Protocol
by Steve Berry

  • Publication Date: February 25, 2020
  • Genres: Fiction, Suspense, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books
  • ISBN-10: 1250140307
  • ISBN-13: 9781250140302