It’s 334 b.c. As confident Alexander the Great prepares to attack the wealthy city of Halicarnassus, a secret killer threatens his tightly organized assault.
Knowing that their army is no match for the Macedonian conqueror, the brain trust of Halicarnassus—Machiavellian spymaster Lord Mithra, commander-in-chief Memnon, and governor Orontobates—send secret operatives into the heart of Alexander’s camp. Much speculation swirls around a treasured and encoded Pythian manuscript Alexander has. Memnon, securing a copy, wants to translate it, thinking it may contain the strategic secret to victory in the upcoming battle or the true identity of the assassin of King Philip, Alexander’s father. When Pamenes, a scribe who’s been working to decode the manuscript, dies in a suspicious fall, Alexander’s physician and close friend Telamon suspects foul play and begins to investigate. Before long, he’s dealing with venomous snakes, poisoned cheese, and more dead bodies. As interested in dramatizing the preparations for the siege as the search for the killer, Doherty mixes Alexander’s crises with Memnon’s strategies in Halicarnassus. The colorful murder suspects include a vain and oversexed acting couple named Gentius and Demerata and the aptly named Cassandra, an advisor who often foretells disaster.
In this third series entry (The Godless Man, 2002, etc.), Doherty effectively accelerates the tension and the bloodshed as Telamon approaches the solution. Astute puzzle fans may even be able to crack the code.