The author has written some expert mystery titles. This venture into non-fiction has the benefit of a stoplight title and a nice concentration on the promised gore. The murderous records that secured thrones for Nero, Catherine the Great, Edward II, the Medicis, Ivan the Terrible and Pope Alexander are re-told. It's been said (by we forget whom) that all the great stories should be re-told every generation. The result this time however, is like classical music played in jazz time -- the tune is familiar but the beat is all wrong. The sense of wonder, horror, and awe that the great originators like Suetonius and Plutarch brought to their stories is missing and the retelling is the poorer for it. Legend, gossip and fact is dished up without speculation as to which may be which resulting in energetic, amateur history for casual readers. This should do well as light reading dressed as non-fiction in circulating collections, and sales will do even better when the hardcover dress is replaced by paper.