Macdonald, James D., and Debra Doyle: (02) “Selling the Devil”

“I’d come to New York on business, switching out fabric samples from the Shroud of Turin so that the scientists who were doing the tests would declare it a fake and give it a rest.”

Ah, another Peter Crossman story, namely “Selling the Devil”, by Debra Doyle and James Macdonald, in On Crusade: More Tales of the Knights Templar. This is actually the middle Crossman short story, but acquiring this anthology was surprisingly difficult. All the local bookstores and several online retailers claimed they didn’t have copies, and when I finally ordered it online from Barnes & Noble, I got the right exterior, but an interior of Evelyn Waugh’s Ordeal of Gilbert Pinfold (of all things). B&N lost my replacement copy, and I only got the second last week.

As the title suggests, this story revolves around a claimed attempt to raise a demon before a paying audience. On the surface, it looks like simple get-rich-quick fakery—but why the new, ornate, chalice, and old, plain, sword? Crossman’s instincts tell him something more sinister is going on, and when he finds the bodies, well, he realizes that he’s right.

Start with The Apocalypse Door if you haven’t read a Peter Crossman story before, but if you encounter a copy of this anthology, definitely worth reading.

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