CRUSADERS OF SALTIER
By William Speir
Strategic Book Group
Last year William Speir introduced the world to a super secret organization known as the Knights of the Saltier; a group of patriotic men and women dedicated to helping the legal authorities of the world maintain law and order. Into this highly complex organization he set his protagonist, Tom Anderson, a former military officer looking to find meaning in his life beyond the normal goals of career and monetary success. By the end of that first volume, Anderson had joined the Knights and discovered his own father was one of the Grand Masters.
At the time I reviewed KNIGHTS OF THE SALTIER, I made a point of applauding it’s originality in giving pulp fans something new and fresh. Whereas with this second entry in the saga, Speir has inadvertently gone down a very popular plot path considered to be one of the most remembered in the history of the genre. In 1934 Popular Publications launched OPERATOR 5, the adventures of a Secret Service agent named Jimmy Christopher. The stories were penned by veteran pulp scribes Frederick C. Davis and Paul Tepperman. Tepperman was responsible for the 13 interconnected novels that make up The Purple Invasion, a series in which the Purple Empire (an unnamed European power) conquers the United States after conquering the rest of the world. Jimmy then led the insurgency against them. The saga is often referred to as the War and Peace of pulps.
In CRUSADERS OF SALTIER, Speir has America conquered but not from an outside force. Rather it is seized from within by a corrupt Washington Administration led by a megalomaniac President set on a course of tyranny and using his power to illegally circumvent the Constitution. When dissenting Americans begin mysteriously disappearing without due process, the Knights of Saltier must confront their greatest challenge ever, how to battle corrupt government agencies and restore the country to the rightful rule of the people.
This is an intense thriller with a fascinating, and very chilling plot line, extremely well realized. Speir balances the action sequences with the more mundane occurrences in Anderson’s life, ala his meeting a lovely young woman and falling in love all the while caught up in the Knights’ struggles to save the government. His skills as a storyteller are growing exponentially with each new book. Once again I heartily recommend this to pulp fans looking for a new twist on action-adventure prose. CRUSDAERS OF THE SALTIER is a terrific chapter in a truly excellent series.