The third installment to Downie's Roman Empire series-the second-century saga of a witty and courageous army surgeon, Gaius Ruso, and his smart and loyal lover, Tilla, a barbarian woman from Britannia-continues in gripping fashion. Ruso returns to his family home in southern Gaul, summoned by a forged letter pleading for his immediate return. Once Ruso and Tilla return, Ruso is thrust into a dangerous quagmire involving a missing ship, huge family debts and, before long, the murder of the family's principal creditor-a crafty phony named Severus-who is poisoned in Ruso's home. While Ruso and his family are quickly suspected of the murder, Ruso and Tilla's attempts to solve the crime are hampered by interfering family members, a lying politician, a greedy banker and a pair of too-eager investigators sent from Rome. Ruso and Tilla must also deal with prejudice, envy and a new religion, Christianity. The plotting is clever and suspenseful, with subtle clues and lots of action, while the setting and supporting cast are vividly drawn. This is solid entertainment, nicely done. (July)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Persona Non Grata (Gaius Petreius Ruso Series #3)by Ruth Downie
"When a mysterious note arrives in the mail consisting only of the words "come home," Gaius Petreius Ruso is forced to give up his career as a military doctor in Britannia and head back to his family in Gaul." "But all is not well on the home front. No one will admit to having sent for him, and his companion Tilla is neither expected nor welcome. With the family… See more details below
"When a mysterious note arrives in the mail consisting only of the words "come home," Gaius Petreius Ruso is forced to give up his career as a military doctor in Britannia and head back to his family in Gaul." "But all is not well on the home front. No one will admit to having sent for him, and his companion Tilla is neither expected nor welcome. With the family teetering on the edge of bankruptcy and the town's leading politician, Gabinius Fuscus, breathing down his neck, it's hard to imagine an unhappier reunion. That is, until Severus, the family's chief creditor, winds up dead, and the real trouble begins." Plunged unwillingly into the investigation, and struggling to help his family's financial situation, Ruso is entrusted with the welfare of the household. But no one seems able to stop meddling in his affairs, and with the pressure mounting, Ruso will have to count on his wits, his girlfriend, and perhaps - for once in his life - a little good fortune.
For years, Ruso has served as a medical officer in the army of the Roman Empire, but a broken foot and a cryptic message, "Come home," have sent him hobbling back to Gaul on extended medical leave. Accompanying him is Tilla, his Briton-born, barbarian companion. Even though he knew that his family was in dire straits financially, Ruso hadn't anticipated the absolute chaos awaiting him-the vineyards are falling into ruin and facing foreclosure, his sisters are dowerless, the family gives Tilla a chilly reception while plotting to marry Ruso off to the wealthy widow living next door, and his first wife's new husband is fatally poisoned. Unfortunately, Ruso is the only witness to the poisoning, and the victim is the family's chief creditor, which puts Ruso in the awkward position of being both criminal investigator and primary suspect. This lively sequel to Medicus and Terra Incognita continues Downie's delightful historical series. Her characters are wonderfully memorable, particularly the dry and acerbic Ruso, whose internal dialog provides some genuinely funny laugh-out-loud moments despite shipwrecks, ex-wives, gruesome gladiatorial games, unruly children, family discord, and, of course, mayhem and murder. Highly recommended.
Jane Henriksen Baird
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