The Apocalypse Door
by James D. MacDonald
Review by James Walton

I promised myself that I would not buy anything. I was going into the bookstore to kill a little time. I already have more books than I can read and comfortably store. I don't need any more books.

Then I foolishly read the copy on the back cover of The Apocalypse Door:

The Blue Dolphin was a waterfront dive on the Hudson side of Manhattan.The lights were low, the vinyl on the seats was cracked, and the air was thick with the odors of sweat, cigarettes, and sin. I'd reported in by phone to the local chapter as soon as I was clear of Newark. The phone call had been four hours ago, and every bone in my body kept screaming, "The OP is blown, get out," but there are times you have to ignore screaming bones. I mentally gave my contact fifteen more minutes and turned my attention back to observing the degradation of my fellow man.

I half-heard, half-felt someone approaching on my right. I still had my attention split three ways between what I hoped was a waitress, the stage, and the door - mostly the door - when she came up and bent over to murmur a few words in my ear. Her breath was warm, her lips moving close beside my ear. She was all but nibbling my earlobe.

"Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. It has been two days since my last confession."

My cover was blown. She knew what I was, even if she didn't exactly know whom. And she knew exactly how to get me. I couldn't refuse her the sacrament, not without risking my own damnation. I had no choice but to ask her, "What is your confession, my daughter?"

"I've come here to kill you."

The narrator, who is using the name Peter Crossman this week, is a spy, a hired killer, a troubleshooter and a priest. Specifically he is a Knight Templar, a warrior priest who handles dangerous situations for his order. (The CIA and FBI routinely pass along work they can't handle to the Knights Templar.) While on a routine assignment he and his partner uncover evidence that something is exerting an extremely unholy influence over the world.

But there are many organizations interested in what Crossman has found and most do not want him to pass along his information.

Door, which is actually two parallel stories told in alternating chapters, is written in a lean and spare style. There are few, if any, wasted words. One is tempted to use the words "hard boiled" and "Chandleresque" while describing the action. There is a lot of gunplay and narrow escapes and an overriding sense of paranoia.

Crossman, who has good reason to not trust his partners, spends time questioning motives and wondering about the final dispensation of hissoul. He is a very complex person with a very dark background. (Everyone in the book has an extremely shady background. Those who do not work for the Church probably work for the Devil.)

At the end of the book we are still unsure if The Apocalypse Door is Science Fiction, fantasy, horror or mystery. It has many aspects of several genres and is a very interesting read.

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