While we were out picking up the extended DVD of The Fellowship of the Ring, we also got a copy of Tales of the Knights Templar, edited by Katherine Kurtz, which has the first Peter Crossman story, “Stealing God.” Unlike The Apocalypse Door, this one is co-written by Debra Doyle and James D. Macdonald. (I think it was a mistake to read this story after spending several hours immersed in the extended version of FotR and appendices; Crossman was briefly looking like Viggo Mortensen in my head, which is particularly wrong considering that Mortensen once played Lucifer.)
Because this is a short story, I really noticed all the allusions that made me say, “Huh?” Among the things I googled on after reading it were the Cathars and Rennes-le-Château (“I was working the security leak at Rennes-le-Château when the word came down. The Rennes flub was over a hundred years old, but the situation needed constant tending to keep people off the scent. That’s the thing about botches. They never go away.”). It makes me wonder what references I was missing in The Apocalypse Door. I also looked up the Meditation Room at the United Nations, where, according to Crossman, that big hunk of rock is actually the Grail: “We could never hide the fact that there was a Grail, or that it was holy, but for a long time we tried to get people to go looking for dinnerware. Then someone talked. Somehow, somewhere, there was a leak. And blunders, like I said, never go away.”
All the crunchy goodness of The Apocalypse Door is present here in smaller form: ancient secret societies, double-crosses, danger and dead people, assassin nuns (okay, just one, but that’s enough), and Crossman’s First Person Hardboiled Narration. I feel sort of guilty for not reading the rest of the anthology, but I’m just not interested in the Knights Templar as a general proposition.