Volume 21, Number 1, Spring, 2003

The Apocalypse Door

By James D. Macdonald

Tor Books; 2002
Reviewed by Bill Howell

First the good news: This was a great read. Well-written and moving at a brisk pace, it represents an interesting twist on the "Covert Ops" genre so popular today. The twist is that the protagonist works not for a governments but is instead a Knight Templar of the Inner Circle, fighting the good fight against the forces of Evil. That's evil as in devil. A black ops agent who is also a devout Catholic priest allows all sort of wicked twists, such as his administering the last rites to men he has just killed and working with another agent who is an assassin/nun from the "Special Action Executive Branch of the Poor Clares." With tongue planted firmly in cheek, they engage in a rousing race to stop an invasion from Hell, or is it merely from another world? Lots of fun and nice to see a hero who actually takes his principles (in this case his faith) truly seriously, even to the point of putting himself in jeopardy rather than violate them. I can definitely recommend this book as a good read. In spite of the cover blurb, it's not terribly Chandler-esque, other than being told in the first person.

Now the bad news: Nary a libertarian theme in the whole work. Our hero never questions what he's doing, as he breaks and enters, steals, and kills in the name of the Greater Good. Of course, in this novel, the Greater Good is actually the Greater God, so perhaps his lack of concern abut the morality of his actions is justified. However, short of the Pope coming out in favor of real laissez-faire capitalism and a concealed carry law, there's not much common ground between the protagonist and a typical libertarian. Even his decision years after to quit the government intelligence service was not motivated by any qualms abut what he was doing in Uncle Sam's name, which is a good thing, since he ends up doing almost the same things in God's name. So sadly, there's really nothing here to interest a libertarian reader, as opposed to someone just looking for a little escapist fare.

Bottom line: I can't recommend this book for LFS consideration, though if you're looking for a fun read. this one's pretty good.

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