The Gates of Hell

Written by Paul Doherty
Review by Kristen McDermott

Paul Doherty, prolific writer of historical mysteries, returns to the campaigns of Alexander the Great. The third in his series opens with the impending siege of Persian-held Halicarnassus. The race is on for both Macedonians and Persians to decipher the Pythian manuscripts that not only hold the clue to the weak spot in the city’s walls, but also to vast treasure. Telemon, Alexander’s physician, investigates the murder of scribe Parmenes, who was on Alexander’s code-cracking team. Amidst his regular duties, Telemon’s investigations unearth a network of spies, greed and more murders as the Persian Triumvirate of General Memnon, Satrap Orontobates and turncoat Ephialtes wage battle of arms and wits with Alexander.

Doherty’s novels are always well written, well researched, and suspenseful. The reader ponders and puzzles out with Telemon on how, and by whom, information is leaked and why certain key people are turning up dead (including a cat!). Eventually, justice catches up to the disloyal and unfaithful, and in a brutal world, mercy could possibly mean a swift death. The beauty of Doherty’s novels is that the excellent writing makes the posed historical possibilities plausible.