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The House of Death: A Mystery of Alexander the Great Hardcover – June 9, 2001


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Carroll & Graf; 1st Carroll & Graf ed edition (June 9, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786708530
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786708536
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,812,331 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In 334 B.C. Alexander the Great has decided to add Persia to his conquests, but finds his inner circle beset with intrigue and his own divine personage in peril as spies and murderers stalk the tents of his army in this fast-paced page-turner. The young ruler summons his childhood friend, Telamon, to ferret out the identity of the mysterious Naihpat, suspected to be the force behind the wave of deaths. A physician who learned deductive reasoning studying with Aristotle, Telamon reluctantly accepts the duty. Freeing the spunky redhead Cassandra from the slave pens to act as his assistant, he quickly encounters killings accomplished by Celtic knife and club, poison and pushes from cliffs even two deaths that occur in "locked rooms," that is, tightly sewn tents with Alexander's guards posted at the only entrance. And with each victim is found a scrap of parchment bearing cryptic warnings taken from the Iliad and Euripides. The prolific Doherty, author of The Mask of the Ra and the sizable historical mystery series about Hugh Corbett and Brother Athelstan, deftly handles the period details, from day-to-day life in the camp to the inner courts of the Persian King of Kings, bringing in a vast cast (many soon to die) as Alexander moves across the Hellespont toward the epic battle of the Granicus. Fans of ancient historical mysteries will find themselves in superbly practiced hands.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Anxious to dominate the Persian empire in 334 B.C.E., Alexander the Great awaits a sign from the gods. He instead finds intrigue, secret agendas, spies, and murder. The appearance of boyhood friend Telamon gives him a trusted ear he hopes.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By ilmk on October 28, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Given Paul Doherty's prolific pen, this is the first of his many mysteries I have read. I must confess that I found this enjoyable but nothing makes it outstanding compared to contemporaries such as Davis, Saylor, Gregory et al.
The novel brings in a new sleuth - Telamon, boyhood friend of Alexander, physician extraordinaire - who uses his intellect to move through Alexander's encampment off the Hellespont to pinpoint a murderer who is killing both guides and physicians with some alacrity ensuring that a single winged celtic style dagger is left behind with each body together with quotes from the Iliad designed to unsettle Alexander's mind. In itself, this seems straightforward but Doherty moves beyond the plain murder mystery, taking us into the politics of the time as Alexander prepares to face both Arsites and Memnon, generals of Darius to weave a credible timeline and powerful motivation behind all of the actions. We are shifted from Alexander's camp to Darius palace to witness the thrust and counter of political intrigue as each seeks to confuse and misdirect the other.
In some respects, the place and method of this murder mystery echoes JMR's 'Nobody Loves A Centurion' with the culprit picking off people in a camp where politics is all important. Alexander's failure to gain good auspices, the spying and counterspying of multiple people all mingle to give both motive and opportunity to a range of people. Part of Telamon's problem is to discern precisely who is (or not) a spy and which side they are on.
Telamon is eventually enlists a red-haired Theban ex-slave, ex-handmaiden of Athena who becomes his assistant and, ultimately, provides the vital link to help Telamon discover who Naiphat, and therefore the culprit, is.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on February 10, 2009
Format: Hardcover
The House of Death is an entertaining little novel (270 pages)--part historical mystery, part character sketch, and part war story. It is about Telamon, an observant physician, who must solve a series of murders afflicting the Macedonian war camp before Alexander embarks to invade the Persian Empire. Although the novel starts slow, burdened by too much historical detail, it picks up speed once Telamon is among the Macedonians and investigating the murders of Alexander's guides. The mystery crackles, with several unexplained deaths, the suggestion of a conspiracy, numerous suspects, and the constant threat of Alexander's displeasure. Telamon may be the protagonist, but Alexander is the star: The author's portrayal is occasionally unfavorable, zeroing in on Alexander's impetuousness and hunger for personal glory. But even these traits have a purpose, and by the end Alexander embodies a shrewdness that has rarely been attributed to him in other books.

Telamon is a likable main character who deigns a cold, clinical demeanor but is in fact a compassionate soul. He instantly reminds me of Ruso, the physician-detective in Ruth Downie's splendid ancient Rome mystery series. Both are reluctant investigators who nevertheless treasure the truth and have willful former slaves as love interests. Since The House of Death was written first, I wonder if Doherty's Telamon inspired Downie's Ruso. Doherty also includes a motley supporting cast, highlighted by spymaster Aristander with his bodyguard of singing Celts, the dwarf Hercules, and the Greek mercenary Memnon.

In the last twenty pages, the novel changes course and becomes a war story, featuring stirring descriptions of combat that would be home in a Bernard Cornwell book.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Ann-Katrin Mansson on March 5, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Having read the two previous books in this series I was really looking forward to this book. I am not disappointed. "The House Of Death" is indeed a very good mystery of Alexander the Great. It takes of immediately after the end of "A Murder In Thebes" and the murders and mysteries begin in the first chapter. The new main character Telamon is an interesting improvement, although a bit anachronistic. A pacifist and non-drinker in 334 BC!
Unwillingly he comes into the camp of Alexander at Sestos and is plunged into a dangerous web of intrigue, murder and mystery. The story is exciting and fast-moving, often gruesome. There is a lot of hidden humour and ironies. Telamon's many troubles with solving the mass murder in Alexander's camp are set against the planning and actions of the Battle of the Granicus, a much larger mass murder indeed.
I have read a lot of books about Alexander the Great, both fiction and fact. This is a most readable book, almost the best of the ones I am aquainted with. It is written in the tradition of Mary Reanult ant in some ways almost as a sequel to "Fire Of Heaven".
I can warmly recomment it to all who has an interest in Alexander and his times&troubles.
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