Author: Anna Apostolou
Number of Pages: 272
Publisher: St. Martin’s
Date of Publication: November 15, 1985
4 stars: Whodunnit?
Anna Apostolou (Also known as Paul C. Doherty) has asked a fantastic question. While we know it was the disgruntled Pausanias who killed the one eyed King Philip II of Macedon, we don’t know exactly who pulled the strings of his killer. Was it the wicked Queen Olympias- his scheming ex-wife and mother of Alexander? Or was it his heir- the cocky young Prince Alexander himself? Could it have been his sworn enemy- the powerful King Darius of Persia? Who gained the most from King Philip’s death? Anna Apostolou creates a brother and sister team, Jewish twins Miriam and Simeon, (close friends of Alexander) to work on solving the mystery. Alexander insists he has nothing to do with it, and instructs Miriam to find out for him.
While some have complained that boorish, womanizing, King Philip isn’t even killed until sixty pages into the book, I found this refreshing. By then, I had actually grown to like Philip. This itself was amazing, because I’ve disliked him in every other historical fiction featuring Alexander the Great that I’ve read. I was also glad to see Alexander’s, often overlooked, half brother Arrhidaeus continuously throughout the story. (The half-wit later known to some as Philip III of Macedon did actually rule for a short time after Alexander the Great’s death.) I applaud how the author left clues along the way, and allowed Miriam to figure out what happened, but still GREATLY surprised me in the end with what was discovered by Miriam. I never even saw it coming! Anna Apostolou’s answer is fascinating- and seems exactly like something that would have happened. Very clever indeed!
I’m looking forward to the next story about Alexander the Great and his friends Miriam and Simeon- A Murder in Thebes (St. Martin’s Minotaur Mysteries). Not everything is tied up nicely. I want to know what will happen to Olympias. Will she continue to scheme? Will Alexander’s newly returned companions support him on his future campaigns? Does anything come of Miriam’s affection for Alexander, and what does Simeon think of it? (Four stars only because I was very put off by the first chapter of the story. I’m glad that I worked through it because everything else was great!)
Historical fiction about Alexander the Great that I also recommend: The Alexander the Great trilogy by Mary Renault Fire from Heaven, The Persian Boy, Funeral Games; Melissa Scott’s historical fiction about Alexander the Great turning towards Rome A Choice of Destinies; and Judith Tarr’s Alexander the Great historical fiction told from an Egyptian point of view Lord of the Two Lands.