cover image Knights of the Cross: A Novel of the Crusades

Knights of the Cross: A Novel of the Crusades

Tom Harper, . . St. Martin's Minotaur/ Dunne, $24.95 (370pp) ISBN 978-0-312-33870-1

British author Harper's excellent second historical whodunit, set in 11th-century Asia Minor during the Crusades, shows that his fine debut, Mosaic of Shadows (2005), was no fluke. As the First Crusaders are stuck in an interminable siege of Turk-held Antioch, Demetrios Askiates, a Greek assigned as scribe to the Byzantine emperor's representative, must once again play detective. The discovery of a Norman knight with his throat slit and bearing unusual markings on his corpse threatens the shaky alliance among the varied European armies of the First Crusade. Amid battles and political intrigues, Demetrios desperately pursues the few clues he has, even as the late Norman knight's companions, who may have joined him in promoting a new heretical sect, also turn up dead. Like Steven Saylor, the master of the ancient Roman historical, Harper effortlessly draws the reader into an unfamiliar time, bringing alive the characters and their motivations. (Aug.)