A Mystery of Alexander the Great
By Paul Doherty
Robinson (Constable & Robinson) - June 2002
ISBN: 1841195642 - PB
Historical Crime - 334 BC Greek World and Persia

Reviewed by Rachel A Hyde,
Buy a US || UK Copy

Paul Doherty has thrilled many readers with his delightfully lurid tales of shady goings-on in mediaeval England and Ancient Egypt and has now turned his attention to Alexander the Great. In this UK issue of a novel Doherty wrote for US readers several years ago under the nom de plume of Anna Apostolou, he introduces physician and friend of Alexander Telamon as the sleuth in a mixture of historical factual adventure story and crime novel. Alexander is poised with his troops by the Hellespont, about to engage in
battle with the Persian King Darius III. The trouble is Persian spies are everywhere and his own people keep getting murdered. All this is the last thing that a nervous young Alexander needs on the eve of a great battle, and to cap it all, the sacrifices to the Gods aren't auguring well at all.

Doherty is known for his mysteries with a slightly supernatural feel to them and in this novel I felt there was more history than mystery and I found that I was so into the characters of Alexander and his companions that somehow the actual crime took a back seat, and seemed merely incidental. The sort of thing that might well happen under the circumstances, but nowhere near as interesting as the actual historical facts that Doherty has woven into a fine tale. There are a lot of novels currently around about Alexander, but this one has a great feel of what it might have been like to be there in his camp and this feeling of immediacy in a novel of long ago is worth more than a dozen deftly-plotted crimes. We are entertained with the inevitable sinister spy/magician Aristander (a very Dohertyesque character) and the she-devil Olympias, mother to Alexander, but apart from these characters that have come out of Doherty's stock, the rest of the book is something of a departure for him and shows that he can do more than crime novels. Out this month is the second in this series The Godless Man, and I personally can't wait to see where he takes this exciting tale.

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