MYSTERY

The Malta Exchange

Minotaur: St. Martin's. (Cotton Malone, Bk. 14). Mar. 2019. 416p. ISBN 9781250140265. $28.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250140272. THRILLER
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OrangeReviewStarIn his 14th escapade (after The Bishop's Pawn), former Justice Department agent Cotton Malone tangles with twin brothers, one of whom wants to be the next pope. Called from retirement by British intelligence to Malta, Malone thinks he is to recover a satchel of damning letters between Benito Mussolini and Winston Churchill, but mighty complications arise. In the vertiginous mix are the Knights of Malta with their covert minions, Malta's secret service, and the Vatican's intelligence service dubbed the Entity. Berry traces 900 years of church history as the backdrop to his immensely byzantine plot highlighting a lost parchment written by Constantine the Great as the artifact that lured notables over the centuries to find it. Malone, aided by former boss Stephanie Nelle and Magellan Billet agent Luke Daniels, performs the familiar yet fresh magic of unravelling a historical secret while surviving deadly attacks with adroit aplomb.
VERDICT Thrillers abound, but Berry has the lock on making history zing with breathless suspense and galloping action. Malta and the Vatican are superb settings for this ecclesiastical extravaganza. [See Prepub Alert, 9/17/18.]

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