What readers are saying...
I just finished up reading The Black Templar - it was again a very intense, thrill ride, written in the manner unique to you. From the moment I found your series I was hooked and I wait for your next offering as soon as I am done reading one of your books. Thank you for these incredible books.
Nick and the team of disbanded Project members take evil in their grasp and extinguish it. Fast paced, exciting and hopefully not the last book in the series.
I've read everyone of the books in this series, usually when the first come out! I've loved the characters and the continuity through each book . Alex is spot on with his research making the stories come alive! Wonderful talented author!
Rain pounded in torrents against the ancient battlements of a castle overlooking the gray-green waters of the Irish Sea. Inside the keep, a silver-haired man stood contemplating the dreary day outside.
Geoffrey Payne was dressed in a gray suit of fine English wool from one of Savile Row's prestigious shops. His face resembled the cracked and weathered cliff where the castle stood. His eyes were a watery blue, the irises surrounded by white circles, the lids inflamed.
They were the eyes of a man approaching the end of life.
A sudden gust of wind rattled the glass of the library windows with sheets of rain.
Payne turned away and crossed the room to a seventeenth century sideboard of dark wood, where a crystal decanter of single malt whisky and four glasses waited on a silver tray. He lifted the decanter and poured some of the amber liquid into a glass. On the other side of the room, a fire crackled and burned in a wide, stone fireplace. Payne sipped, walked to a leather armchair by the fire, and sat down.
The library was long and narrow, with a high, groined ceiling. Antique rugs were scattered over the stone floor. The walls were paneled in dark walnut wainscoting stripped from one of the great houses in the south of England. It was an elegant room, a room reflecting taste and wealth.
One wall of the library was filled with shelves of books, many hundreds of years old. The top shelves were reached by way of a ladder that rolled across the front of the bookcase. Opposite the windows, the heavy oak door into the library was flanked with suits of armor, dull with age. A sixteenth century tapestry hung over the door. It depicted a group of medieval knights wearing the Templar cross, gathered on the slopes of Jerusalem.
The fourth wall contained the fireplace and a display of medieval weapons. Except for the books, it was a room that would have felt familiar to a noble from the time of the Crusades.
If anyone were to ask over a pint of Guinness in the local pub about the man who lived in the castle, they would hear that he was a wealthy widower who kept to himself, that he came from an ancient family, and that he'd made his money selling frozen pies. Over a second pint, they might learn he wasn't seen much in the village, and that his pies were mediocre.
If they'd been able to peer inside Geoffrey Payne's mind, the villagers would have been shocked. Behind the façade of a reclusive country squire was a man obsessed with finding the lost treasure of the Knights Templar.
The treasure had vanished in 1307. It had never been seen again.
On October 13th in 1307, a Friday, King Philip IV of France arrested the leaders of the Knights Templar and many of the order's members. They were accused of worshiping a satanic statue, holding sexual orgies, and making obscene sacrifices. Many were executed, the leaders burned at the stake. The Order of the Poor Knights of the Temple of Solomon was crushed, their lands and castles seized.
Historians thought the accusations had been dreamed up by Phillip as an excuse to seize the Templar wealth and lands, but the historians were wrong. A secret group within the order was guilty of all the charges. Seven hundred years later, the group still existed.
Geoffrey Payne was the current Grand Master.
One of the men who had escaped the stake was Payne's ancestor, a cruel and secretive man. He'd left behind a document written in code after his death, said to hold the key to finding the Templar gold. It had been handed down through the male side of the family for generations, until it had come to Payne, the last of his line. He was determined to learn its secrets.
He didn't care about the gold of the Templars. There was something more important than gold concealed with the treasure. To find it, he needed to read the document his ancestor had left behind.
Like all wealthy men, Payne had others do the things he didn't want to do or couldn't do himself. He paid them well for their services and demanded absolute loyalty in return. A few had been initiated into the Order. One of them was a professor of medieval literature at Cambridge University. Payne had given him the task of finding someone who could break the code and translate the document. Dubois had called the night before, saying he'd found someone he thought could do it.
Payne finished his drink and listened to the staccato sound of the rain against the window, beating incessant counterpoint to the crackling flames of the fire, and thought about how time was running out.
Payne was dying. He'd be dead within the year, unless he found out where the Templar wealth had been hidden. Then everything would change. The destiny of his ancestors would be fulfilled.
And he would live forever.
Nick Carter looked out at the lights of a barge passing on the Potomac River, six stories below the windows of his loft. He was holding a steaming cup of coffee and thinking about how much had changed in the last few months. One of the changes was being a new father.
The twins were sleeping, creating a rare interlude of quiet. Selena was in the study, where she'd dozed off reading an academic journal. The babies were only four months old and neither of them was getting much sleep. The cat lay in his usual spot on the couch, paws in the air, snoring.
Everything in Nick's world was as it was supposed to be. The only problem was that he was bored out of his skull.
The last mission in Argentina had caused a major diplomatic incident, and the new president had taken a lot of heat. It was the excuse he'd been looking for to shut down the Project. The team had dissolved. Everyone had gone their separate ways.
Lamont was down in the Florida Keys, fishing. Ronnie had gone home to the Navajo reservation to study traditional healing with his uncle, one of the last men alive who knew the old ceremonies. Harker was writing a book. Stephanie was helping her.
Everyone had something to do except him. Without the Project, Nick didn't know what to do with himself. For the first time in more than twenty years, he wasn't gearing up to go on a mission somewhere.
Only a few months before he'd been thinking it was time to quit. Then the choice had been made for him, and it hadn't turned out as he'd expected. He told himself it was better for him, for Selena, for his children.
It didn't make any difference.
Selena's cell played a tune signaling an incoming call in the other room. He looked down at the coffee in his cup and decided to throw a shot of Jameson in it. Irish coffee the right way, without the Bailey's and whipped cream.
Selena came into the room, stifling a yawn. For the thousandth time he thought how lucky he was to have ended up with her. She was more beautiful than ever. Her face had gotten thinner, making her high cheekbones stand out. Her intense violet eyes had new depth, as if some ancient knowledge had been transferred to her with the birth of the twins.
She brushed a wisp of hair away from her face and rubbed her eyes.
"I was having this lovely dream, then the phone woke me up."
"Who called?" he asked.
"You don't know him. His name is Alan Dubois. He's an acquaintance I met years ago, after a presentation I gave in England at Cambridge. He's a professor of medieval literature there. He's in town to give a guest lecture at Georgetown and has a document he wants me to look at."
"What kind of document?"
"A page from a journal in medieval French. He knows the language but it's written in an obscure dialect. He wants me to take a look and see if I can translate it. I thought he could bring the document here tomorrow. That way I don't have to leave the twins."
"Sounds like it's right up your alley."
There was something in the tone of his voice that made her look at him.
"You're bored, aren't you?"
"You could say that."
Nick walked over to the kitchen counter and set his coffee down next to a monitor for the nursery. He opened a cabinet, took out the bottle of Jameson, and poured a shot into the coffee.
"I can look after the twins, if you want to meet this guy in town."
"I want to spend as much time as possible with them for now. I've been thinking about hiring a nanny, but it's still a little soon. Maybe in a month or so."
"It would be nice to have some free time. We haven't gone out on the town since they showed up."
"It's strange, isn't it?"
"Not having the Project at the center of our lives. I know it's not easy for you. I've got Jason and Katrina to keep me busy."
"So do I."
"Yes, but it's different for you."
"I've been thinking. Maybe we should set up a security consulting business. Something that would utilize your experience."
"I'm good in the field. I'm not sure I'd be a good consultant."
"You'd be a wonderful consultant. You have years of practical experience. You succeeded where most people would have failed."
Nick smiled. "You mean I survived when others would've died."
"You could see it that way, but that's not what I meant. I'm serious. There are plenty of people who need expertise like yours. There's a big market for it."
"Expertise like ours, you mean. You survived a lot of the same situations I did."
Nick looked at her and smiled.
"Who do you think you're fooling? I see what's happening. You miss it, don't you? The action. The rush. You're an adrenaline junkie, just like me."
"Did you just figure that out? Don't get me wrong. I'm not suggesting we go out there and get shot at again."
"It sounds like you are. To be any good at the kind of consulting you're talking about, we'd have to go where the action is. You can't plan security without observing the environment."
"We can assess and observe without getting shot at. Most of the time it would probably be just you that goes. If both of us have to go, we could find someone to take care of the twins."
"You make it sound simple."
"Elizabeth knows a lot of people. We could get her involved. Stephanie, too. We could form a think tank, a brain trust to advise people with sticky security problems. It would be fun."
"Next thing you'll want to bring Ronnie and Lamont back in."
"Why not? That might not be a bad idea, but I wasn't thinking of re-creating the Project. You have to admit, between us we cover a lot of bases. Money's not an issue. I can fund whatever we need until it begins paying for itself. What do you think?"
"It's an idea."
The monitor emitted a wail.
"Sounds like Jason," Selena said. "I'll do it."
"I still can't figure out how you can tell them apart from a single cry."
Selena laughed. A second cry joined the first.
"The chorus is awake," Nick said.
"Seriously," she said. "Think about what I said. It could be fun."
Nick sipped his coffee and watched her walk into the other room.
It's not a bad idea, he thought. It beats sitting around here all day. Maybe it could work.