Has Alexander of Macedon been killed with his army in Thessaly even before he can become Alexander the Great? No, he’s alive and in fighting trim. But the rumors of his defeat and death are so threatening to his dreams of unifying Greece against the growing Persian enemy that it’s doubly important his siege of Thebes be successful. Even when the city of the fabled King Oedipus obligingly falls to the conqueror, Alexander’s scorched-earth victory is poisoned by his failure to secure the Iron Crown of Oedipus, a relic jealously guarded by the keepers of a local shrine, and by the death of his trusted officer Memnon, who unaccountably plunged to his death from a tower window dressed in full battle gear. It’s murder, of course, and only the first of several acts in a bloody chapter that will feature the limping ghost of Thebes’ most famous citizen, provide endless grist for Alexander’s twin Israelite clerks Miriam and Simeon Bartimaeus (A Murder in Macedon, 1997), and have even the most tenderhearted readers forgetting about the burning of Thebes. The only downside for non-Theban partisans is that the homicidal toll grows so great (to an even dozen, by our count) that there’s not much room for incidents that don’t involve the discovery of more corpses. Pseudonymous Apostolou provides painless historical sidelights while her heroine continues to make up in detective acumen what she lacks in personality.