THE CROSS BEARER
By: Roy Lewis
St. Martin’s Press, New York
January 1994 (hc)
I finished up last month’s review of Dead
Secret by Roy Lewis by noting that all other Arnold Landon
archaeology mysteries were either out of print or published only in the
U.K. Since then I discovered the wonders of ordering out of print
titles from Amazon.com’s affiliated used book dealers.
And what a wonder it is! Not
only was I able to obtain another Arnold Landon mystery, reviewed below,
but it arrived in mint condition with a beautifully intact and
slipcovered dust jacket—for less than the original publisher’s
This second Arnold Landon mystery, The Cross
Bearer, was, if anything, more entertaining than Dead Secret.
The story opens with a vignette from 1310 in which the
minions of Phillippe the Fair and the Pope are scouring Scotland as they
hunt down the last vestiges of the Knights Templar and their fabled
The narrative then moves to the present day as two
seemingly unrelated story lines gradually converge.
Arnold Landon, who is an archaeologist for the Northumberland
Department of Museums and Antiquities, finds himself on the periphery of
a political battle that threatens to involve a number of high-ranking
county officials in charges of corrupt practices.
At the same time he finds himself drawn into the center of a
struggle between forces dedicated to preserving the sacred history of
the Knights Templar, and incidentally, the aforementioned fabled
treasure. When a politician central to both the corruption probe and
the Templar treasure quest is found dead, Arnold Landon, his friend Jane
Wilson, and an obsessed police inspector, find themselves on the trail
of a killer whose motives may lie almost seven hundred years in the past
or in today’s newspaper headlines.
When the bookish and unassuming archaeologist finally faces the
killer in the ruins of a medieval chapel in the Borderlands, Arnold
realizes he must rely on both muscle and guile to defeat this enemy who
is determined to have Arnold resting eternally beside the “soldiers of
Christ” who guard the Templar treasure for all time.
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