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The Apocalypse Door Hardcover – November 1, 2002

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A dash of medieval mystery adds zest to this inventive melange of hard-boiled thriller and speculative fantasy. The refreshingly original hero, Peter Crossman, is an Inner Temple soldier in the Knights Templar, an order of paramilitary priests that has existed covertly since its presumed dismantling in the 14th century. Although he's used to challenging missions, Peter's latest proves a doozy when a tip on the whereabouts of a missing U.N. peacekeeping team leads him to a warehouse in Newark and a crate of living mushrooms that appear to flinch at the sign of the cross. Peter and his partner Simon later stumble on the gruesomely mutilated bodies of their confederates and wind up in the hands of the Teutonic Knights, a heretical rival sect whose figurehead, a brazen talking effigy, is the otherworldly key to past and present intrigues that have bedeviled Peter and his order. The jolts and torques of the roller-coaster plot are completely unpredictable, but Macdonald sets them up credibly, with subtly deployed clues and skillful misdirection of the reader to supernatural explanations for crucial plot developments. The Knights Templar angle also gives events an interesting moral dimension and a distinctive focus for the development of Peter's character through the unique obligations it creates (such as having to give absolution to an assassin preparing to kill him in an early scene). Though other novels have blended mysticism, mystery and fantasy, few have done it as smartly or succinctly as this one.with his wife, Debra Doyle, under the pseudonym J.D. Macdonald.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

When a UN peacekeeping force goes missing, agent Peter Crossman, a modern-day Knight Templar, must find it. Joined by Simon, his apprentice, and Maggie, a professional assassin and a member of the Order of Poor Claires, Crossman uncovers information leading to a diabolical scheme to open a gate to hell. The author, who co-writes the "Mageworlds" series with wife Debra Doyle, applies his bare-bones style to a fast-paced tale of supernatural intrigue featuring hard-as-nails heroes on a literal mission from God. A good choice for most libraries.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; 1st edition (November 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312869886
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312869885
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.9 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,469,112 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

James D. Macdonald was born in White Plains, New York in 1954, and raised in Bedford, New York, the son of a chemical engineer and an artist. His last significant formal education took place at Archbishop Stepinac High School in White Plains, though he passed through the University of Rochester where he learned that a degree in Medieval Studies wouldn't fit him for anything. He went off to sea "to forget," though he's forgotten exactly what. As an enlisted Boatswain's Mate in the Navy, and later as an officer, he saw the world, and discovered that three quarters of it was water. Some time later, tired of the adventure, he decided to get a job.

As the famous Yog Sysop, Macdonald ran the Science Fiction and Fantasy RoundTable on GEnie for two years ('91 to '93). He's since moved on to being Yog Sysop at SFF Net. Doyle and Macdonald now live -- still with various children, cats, and computers -- in a big 19th-Century house in Colebrook, New Hampshire, where they learned to drink Moxie and collaborate in writing science fiction and fantasy for children, teenagers, and adults.

Customer Reviews

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See all 13 customer reviews
Read it for yourself and tell me I'm wrong.
April S. Fields
Yet it reads, despite the humor, much like Kurtz's Adept novels or Reave's Hell on Earth or Zicree et al's Magic Time.
Arthur W. Jordin
A fun read and quite unique compared to a lot of the other urban fantasy crowding bookstore shelves these days.
Tim Janson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Arthur W. Jordin on December 1, 2002
Format: Hardcover
The Apocalypse Door (2002) is supposed to be a funny satire. Yet it reads, despite the humor, much like Kurtz's Adept novels or Reave's Hell on Earth or Zicree et al's Magic Time.

It tells two stories, one starring Pete, an agent of the inner Temple, and the other featuring Mike, an agent of the Company. Pete takes a potential inner temple inductee on a "sneak and peek" into the Best Long-Term (BLT) warehouse looking for missing UN peacekeepers. Mike is dropped into the jungle to look for a missing friendly. Pete finds something that he is not expecting, thereby discovering the possible onset of the apocalypse, and is drafted back into the CIA. Mike is caught by the local police and tortured by the bad guys. The stories eventually intersect in an unexpected manner.

Along the way, Mike meets some interesting locals, but Pete meets a nun assassin who likes to dress as a prostitute or MTV star, a former satanist who was kicked out for giving evil a bad name, several Teutonic Knights, and a few mushrooms, not to mention a brazen head. Just to add to the fun, two of Pete's contacts turn up as bodies without faces.

While he pokes fun at the intelligence community, MacDonald does it like an insider. His use of terms and methods is right on the money, as is his cynicism; you can't play the spy game without getting dirty. And his religious references are also correct insofar as I could tell; maybe he DID attend a parochial school.

This is a fun book in several ways. I especially liked the comment about owning the Maltese Falcon. This is much too good to be a singleton novel.

-Arthur W. Jordin
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By booksforabuck VINE VOICE on December 31, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Knight Templar Peter Crossman's task should be easy. Infiltrate a New Jersey warehouse, discover if missing U.N. peacekeepers are being held there, and report back to the Temple. Instead of peacekeepers, though, Crossman finds mushrooms that recoil from the cross, a beautiful assassin/nun, and hints that the end of time is at hand.
Author James D. Macdonald keeps the action moving, as Crossman and his sidekicks try to stay ahead of the CIA, the Teutonic Knights, and an alien race from another dimension. In a secondary story, Crossman's earlier, pre-priest, history is recalled. Macdonald's writing is slick and keeps the pages turning. I am concerned, however, about logic problems. Crossman's opponents are, presumably, not stupid. Yet they fail to take advantage of numerous opportunities to simply kill him and have him out of the way. Then there's the matter of the brass statue. Why did it call itself to Crossman's attention?
A story that postulates the continued secret existance of the long-banned Knights Templar, of the Teutonic Knights, and of assassin nuns can't be all bad and THE APOCALYPSE DOOR isn't. The character of Peter Crossman is nicely drawn and his faith feels genuine. I found his dilemma while taking an assassin/nun's confession to be especially moving.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By April S. Fields on September 20, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Perhaps that is a universal axiom that all of us should not ignore. For example, I never think to consider exploring within the fantasy/thriller genre. I don't know why this is. I read other things; so many books, so little time, I guess.
After reading Apocalypse Door, I feel somewhat foolish, as though I've wasted time being so narrow in my previous reading choices. All I can say is, it was a fun ride, full of twists and turns and dotted with intriguing references that immediately made me desire to dig further.
Right off the bat, the premise of a Priest/Knight Templar/Covert Agent knocked me off axis. Throw in a Nun/Hit Person and I felt as though I'd been cast off into unknown territory without familiar signposts to guide me home. Although a working knowledge of the Book of Revelation gave me at least a leg up. From the first page I admit I felt a certain discomfort and yet I couldn't stop reading it. Consumed almost entirely in one lazy Sunday afternoon, I was forced, by circumstances, to stop just short of the last chapter. A week later, freed to resume, I finished up with absolutely no clue how the author would clean up the mess and satisfy my need for a clean wrap. By the last page I was not only no longer uncomfortable but I was compelled to do some research about the references to the Knights Templar so cleverly used by the author to weave his intricate story.
I have a good track record for visualizing certain works of fiction as screenplays. I've done it before, casually thinking to myself, "I'll see this one on the big screen one day."
This is one of those works. I've already cast the characters. I see Pierce Brosnan possibly Bruce Willis as the protag Peter Crossman and possibly Angelina Jolie as Sister Mary Magdalene.
Read it for yourself and tell me I'm wrong.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By T Galazka on May 15, 2003
Format: Hardcover
After reading the first dozen pages, I was rather disappointed. I kept telling myself, "Oh, well, at least I bought it used," but even so I was tempted to bawl out the reviewer from "Analog", I think, who'd gushed about the book. And then it clicked. And after that I was almost wholly happy. The gags, the one-liners, the action scenes - they all work nicely, even if the mushroom men make strangely low-powered enemies (I mean, falling apart because of shotgun recoil? Hardly brilliant...).
All in all, a nice fast read with a good premise and decent writing. Hopefully, if there are sequels, they would improve on this.
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