A Choice of Murder

Peter Vansittart, Author
Peter Vansittart, Author Peter Owen Publishers $30 (216p) ISBN 978-0-7206-0832-8
Reviewed on: 09/28/1992
Release date: 10/01/1992
Paperback - 216 pages - 978-0-7206-0851-9
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Although its title suggests a formula mystery, this book by the accomplished British author of The Wall is in fact a sophisticated, thought-provoking historical novel, set in ancient Greece and Sicily. Vansittart is adept at emphasizing the ideas and personal motives behind historical events. The protagonist is fourth-century B.C. soldier and political leader Timoleon of Syracuse, who liberated that city from the control of Carthage. Keeping dialogue to a minimum, Vansittart delves into Timo's life and career, supplying a political motive for his murder of his older brother, sketching his wanderings in exile and his induction into the Eleusinian mysteries, then depicting his triumphant return to his native Corinth. Vansittart does a credible job of resurrecting an almost forgotten statesman and in elucidating the idea of ``Hellas''--a loose group of independent but culturally related city-states--which found its last champion in Timo; an ancient way of life died with him. A fine meditation on Western civilization at an early crossroads. ( Jan. )
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