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The Knights of the Cornerstone by James P. Blaylock
Cover Artist: Sam Montesano
Review by Mel Jacob
Ace Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780441016532
Date: 02 December 2008 List Price $23.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

James Blaylock's new novel Knights of the Cornerstone uses the legends associated with the Knights Templar in his new thriller. He stirs villains, a reluctant hero, and fantasy elements in a heady mix. Murders old and new, violence, and greed propel the action. His hero, cartoonist Calvin Bryson, must leave his comfortable rut to deliver a family heirloom to an uncle in the small town of New Cypress. He has no inkling where this errand will take him.

When Calvin stops at a convenience store on the main highway to pick up some grape soda for his uncle, someone steals the heirloom from the trunk of his car. However, the proprietor of the store gives him a similar box for his uncle. Calvin drives on and reaches his uncle. His aunt has suffered a relapse in her cancer and is dying. The box he carries has the real heirloom.

Calvin discovers the heirloom is a fabled veil similar to the Shroud of Turin supposed to possess mystical powers. The Knights safeguard a number of Templar treasures. Legend also says a silver mine lies beneath New Cypress. Bob Postum, the chief villain, wants both the religious artifacts and any silver.

When a bookstore owner is murdered and his body shipped to Calvin's uncle. Calvin considers leaving. He has no desire to join the bookstore owner. However, running would leave his aunt and uncle, a pretty waitress Donna Brewer, and the town of New Cypress to defend themselves.

Bob's villainous crew uses kidnappings, guns, explosives, camels, and trebuchets to gain control of New Cypress. The Knights strive to repel them without these weapons using ingenuity, the forces of nature, and their faith to preserve their treasures and way of life.

This, Blaylock's first novel in several years, uses clichés with abandon, but most are for humor. Paranormal events pepper the narrative. Noted for his fantasy stories of "steam Victorian" adventures, Blaylock's works have won several awards. Knights of the Cornerstone provides a fun adventure with a thrilling climax.

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