Requires some suspension of disbelief and an appreciation for medieval mythology.

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THE LEGACY OF TWO GEMINI KNIGHTS

Searching for purpose, Will McBride, a young man in 14th-century Scotland, encounters two Templar Knights and ultimately aides them as they attempt to mount a new Crusade to regain a foothold in Jerusalem with the goal of rebuilding Solomon’s Temple and heralding in the “End Time.”

Intrigued by his own Scottish heritage, debut Australian novelist Logan began researching the history of Scotland from the 14th to the 18th centuries. In the process, he became especially fascinated by the real saga of Sir Walter and Sir Robert Logan, brothers and knights. After the Catholic Church disbanded and excommunicated the Order of the Templars, in 1312, a number of knights escaped the European continent and continued their order under the protection of Robert the Bruce of Scotland. This much is history; the rest of the tale is imagined adventure, historical battles intertwined with Celtic mythology, a dose of Arthurian legend and enough magical idols with special powers to keep the fanciful satisfied. Sprinkled in is a trunk-full of sage advice and cautions dispensed to Will by a variety of mentors. There is plenty of interest in this dense volume—political intrigue as early kings vie for power, wealth and land; secret battles between Catholic priests and Templar Knights, each claiming to represent the true way to serve God; plus the search for hidden Templar gold and silver and a secreted statue known as the “Black Madonna” dating back to the days of Queen Esther of ancient Persia. There are also some engaging depictions of 14th-century day-to-day life. Unfortunately, grammatical problems—“more clearer,” “more easier,” punctuation oddities, etc.—prove distracting. Similarly out of place are the occasional colloquial phrases inappropriate for the period—“I tell you he is one sick puppy”—which are especially jarring in a narrative that otherwise tries to re-create the cadence of the time.

Requires some suspension of disbelief and an appreciation for medieval mythology.

Pub Date: March 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-1491864043

Page Count: 486

Publisher: AuthorHouse

Review Posted Online: Sept. 17, 2014

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Great storytelling, a quirky hero, and a quirkier plot make this a winner for adventure fans.

CROOKED RIVER

FBI Special Agent Aloysius Pendergast finds evil afoot in his latest action-filled adventure (Verses for the Dead, 2018, etc.).

Imagine Florida beachcombers’ shock when they discover a shoe with a severed foot inside. Soon they see dozens more feet, all in identical shoes, bobbing toward the beach. Police and FBI ultimately count more than a hundred of them washing up on Sanibel and Captiva Islands' tranquil shores. Pendergast teams up with the junior Special Agent Armstrong Coldmoon to investigate this strange phenomenon. Oceanographers use a supercomputer to analyze Gulf currents and attempt to determine where the feet entered the ocean. Were they dumped off a ship or an island? Does each one represent a homicide? Analysts examine chemical residues and pollen, even the angle of each foot’s amputation, but the puzzle defies all explanation. Attention focuses on Cuba, where “something terrible was happening” in front of a coastal prison, and on China, the apparent source of the shoes. The clever plot is “a most baffling case indeed” for the brilliant Pendergast, but it’s the type of problem he thrives on. He’s hardly a stereotypical FBI agent, given for example his lemon-colored silk suit, his Panama hat, and his legendary insistence on working alone—until now. Pendergast rarely blinks—perhaps, someone surmises, he’s part reptile. But equally odd is Constance Greene, his “extraordinarily beautiful,” smart, and sarcastic young “ward” who has “eyes that had seen everything and, as a result, were surprised by nothing.” Coldmoon is more down to earth: part Lakota, part Italian, and “every inch a Fed.” Add in murderous drug dealers, an intrepid newspaper reporter, coyotes crossing the U.S.–Mexico border, and a pissed-off wannabe graphic novelist, and you have a thoroughly entertaining cast of characters. There is plenty of suspense, and the action gets bloody.

Great storytelling, a quirky hero, and a quirkier plot make this a winner for adventure fans.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5387-4725-4

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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Archer will be a great series character for fans of crime fiction. Let’s hope the cigarettes don’t kill him.

ONE GOOD DEED

Thriller writer Baldacci (A Minute to Midnight, 2019, etc.) launches a new detective series starring World War II combat vet Aloysius Archer.

In 1949, Archer is paroled from Carderock Prison (he was innocent) and must report regularly to his parole officer, Ernestine Crabtree (she’s “damn fine-looking”). Parole terms forbid his visiting bars or loose women, which could become a problem. Trouble starts when businessman Hank Pittleman offers Archer $100 to recover a ’47 Cadillac that’s collateral for a debt owed by Lucas Tuttle, who readily agrees he owes the money. But Tuttle wants his daughter Jackie back—she’s Pittleman’s girlfriend, and she won’t return to Daddy. Archer finds the car, but it’s been torched. With no collateral to collect, he may have to return his hundred bucks. Meanwhile, Crabtree gets Archer the only job available, butchering hogs at the slaughterhouse. He’d killed plenty of men in combat, and now he needs peace. The Pittleman job doesn’t provide that peace, but at least it doesn’t involve bashing hogs’ brains in. People wind up dead and Archer becomes a suspect. So he noses around and shows that he might have the chops to be a good private investigator, a shamus. This is an era when gals have gams, guys say dang and keep extra Lucky Strikes in their hatbands, and a Lady Liberty half-dollar buys a good meal. The dialogue has a '40s noir feel: “And don’t trust nobody.…I don’t care how damn pretty they are.” There’s adult entertainment at the Cat’s Meow, cheap grub at the Checkered Past, and just enough clichés to prove that no one’s highfalutin. Readers will like Archer. He’s a talented man who enjoys detective stories, won’t keep ill-gotten gains, and respects women. All signs suggest a sequel where he hangs out a shamus shingle.

Archer will be a great series character for fans of crime fiction. Let’s hope the cigarettes don’t kill him.

Pub Date: July 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5387-5056-8

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2019

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