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Published by Sharpe Books, 27 May 2020. ISBN: 979-865116077-8
The story is set in Greece, circa
1190 BCE. Agamemnon, High King of Mycenae, has declared war on Troy. His excuse
is that he wishes to rescue Helen, his brother’s wife, who is a prisoner in
Troy, but the true reason is his desire to extend his already considerable
reputation and power. Agamemnon is determined that the other kings in Greece
join him and supply armies to assist him. Many of the kings are unwilling
because they fear that a long campaign will impoverish their countries, destroy
their armies and even lead to the deaths of their heirs, who would lead the
armies. However, they dare not voice their dissent because Agamemnon is too
mighty and ruthless a ruler for the kings to defy. One of the kings who has
agreed to help Agamemnon is the legendary adventurer Odysseus, King of Ithaca.
Odysseus is travelling in his ship, Thalassa, on his way to Phthia, to search
for Prince Achilles to persuade him to join Agamemnon’s campaign. Achilles is a
great military commander who controls a powerful army, the Myrmidons, and it
seems likely that, if Odysseus can locate him, he will be eager to gain glory
on the battlefield.
story is narrated by a young man who had been beaten and crippled by robbers
when he was travelling in Troy. No longer able to pursue an active career, the
boy becomes an apprentice to a rhapsode, a man who recites epic poems, an
avocation that requires an excellent memory. While Odysseus is passing through
Aulis on his way to Phthia he encounters the young rhapsode and invites him to
accompany him. Delighted by the prospect of adventure, the rhapsode is eager to
accept, although it is not clear whether Odysseus values him as an entertainer
or for his knowledge of Troy.
is a man with several titles, King when in his palace, General when on the
battlefield, and Captain when aboard his ship; and it is as Captain that the
young rhapsode knows him. Also, aboard the ship is Agamemnon’s chief advisor,
Nestor, King of Pylos, who is travelling with them because Agamemnon does not
fully trust Odysseus. Nestor proves to be a trial to both Odysseus and the
rhapsode: Odysseus because the inflexibility of Nestor’s thought processes
means that his advice is often unsuitable for the situation; the rhapsode has
problems because Nestor had once sailed with Jason and interrupts recitation of
epics with interminable stories. From the first secret smile that they share
over Nestor’s didactic statements, the rhapsode is devoted to Odysseus and his
the journey, they discover a corpse floating on a makeshift raft and Odysseus
recovers it. Odysseus reveals yet another extraordinary talent, that of an
insightful investigator who is skilled in logical deduction and forensic
observation. He deduces that the man has been murdered and that he was a
rhapsode, who, because of his trained memory, has been employed by one of the
kings who wishes to communicate secretly with another ruler. When the murdered
body of the dead rhapsode’s apprentice is also discovered, Odysseus’ theory
seems to be substantiated and his own rhapsode realises that his chosen career
is far more dangerous than he had realised.
Odysseus and his rhapsode continue to attempt to complete their mission and
locate Achilles they have to cope with deceit, corruption, murder and violence,
and the young rhapsode discovers that political games in the courts of kings
are very hazardous.
is the first in a new series, The Trojan Murders. It is a fascinating mixture
of murder mystery, political intrigue and Greek legend. Odysseus is a
charismatic hero, a great fighter and commander and a wily player of political
games, at the same time he is at ease with the men under his command, such as
his rhapsode. I did have some problems when reading this book in the paperback
edition, because of the close line spacing and tight layout.
is an intriguing murder mystery with a skilfully depicted setting and
charismatic hero. An unusual and enjoyable read.
Peter Tonkinwas born 1 January 1950 in Ulster, son of an RAF
officer. He spent much of his youth travelling the world from one posting to
another. He went to school at Portora Royal, Enniskillen and Palmer's, Grays.
He sang, acted, and published poetry, winning the Jan Palac Memorial Prize in
1968. He studied English with Seamus Heaney at Queen's Belfast. His first novel, Killer,
was published in 1978. Since then he has divided his time between writing and
teaching. He has published 47 other novels including the Master of
Defence series of Elizabethan murder mysteries and the 30-book Mariner
series of action-adventure-thrillers. Since retiring from teaching, he
has been preparing a series of thrillers set in Ancient Rome.
Carol Westronis a successful short story writer and a Creative
Writing teacher.She is the moderator
for the cosy/historical crime panel, The Deadly Dames.Her crime novels are set both in contemporary
and Victorian times.The Terminal
Velocity of Cats the first in her Scene of Crimes novels, was published
July 2013. Carol recently gave an interview to Mystery People. To read the
interview click on the link below.