Persona Non Grata (Gaius Petreius Ruso Series #3)

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Overview

"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

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Persona Non Grata (Gaius Petreius Ruso Series #3)

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Overview

"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.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

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.

Library Journal

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

Kirkus Reviews
A third deftly plotted puzzler starring Roman battlefield physician Gaius Petreius Ruso and his former house servant-and present lover-Tilla (Terra Incognita, 2008, etc.). The body count is small, but the intrigue is thick and suitably baffling as the action moves from Roman-occupied Britain to the home front in Gaul, to which Ruso is unexpectedly summoned by his endlessly demanding family. A letter supposedly sent by his curmudgeonly brother Lucius informs the medicus, who's recuperating from an accidental injury, that his relatives are suspects in the presumed murder of Severus, the greedy creditor who was threatening to bust their assets. Astutely misdirecting us, Downie opens with a scene set aboard a burning merchant ship, on which Ruso's brother-in-law Justinus is held captive. Then the scene shifts to Ruso's homecoming, accompanied by Tilla, and the resumption of frayed relations with his snotty stepmother Arria, various half-sisters and other family and their ubiquitous naked toddlers, a wily senator (Fuscus) intent on turning the Rusos' new ill-fame to his advantage, a lovesick gladiator (Tertius) and Gaius' combative ex Claudia, more recently Severus' spouse and possibly "the bitch" identified as his poisoner by the deceased's final words. Nobody seems upset that Severus has been iced, but crisscrossing investigations produce ever more embarrassing disclosures as the mayhem evolves into something very like an extended episode of Everybody Loves Raymond with togas and guest appearances by the Marx brothers. Ruso's sullen wit is dependably delightful ("the beheading of unruly relatives seemed a little harsh, but obviously one would exercise discretion"). And when the unquenchablycurious Tilla encounters acolytes of the odd new faith called Christianity, we know Downie is sharpening her knives for Ruso's next surgically precise adventure. Enormous fun: another lively winner from a newly established mistress of the genre.
From the Publisher
"Persona Non Grata brims with the complex characters and rich detail that have made this series a must for period mystery buffs." —-Booklist
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781608190478
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
  • Publication date: 8/3/2010
  • Series: Gaius Petreius Ruso Series , #3
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 259,017
  • Product dimensions: 5.68 (w) x 11.06 (h) x 0.97 (d)

Meet the Author


In 2004, Ruth Downie won the Fay Weldon section of BBC3's End of Story competition. She is the author of the highly acclaimed Roman Empire series.

Simon Vance has recorded over four hundred audiobooks and has earned over twenty AudioFile Earphones Awards, including for his narration of Scaramouche by Rafael Sabatini. He is also the recipient of five coveted Audie Awards, including one for The King's Speech by Mark Logue and Peter Conradi, and he was named an AudioFile Best Voice of 2009.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 33 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 33 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 1, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Downie gets better each time

    I enjoyed reading the first two and it seems with each book I've read from Ruth Downie, they improve each time. Although I found the first two a little on the dry side at times, Persona Non Grata was different. I was more interested in the book, and felt myself turning the pages a lot more quickly than the first two in the series.

    I really had to sympathize with Gaius. Not only does he always get the short end of the stick in life, but you can't help but laugh at his predicaments because things just seem to go from bad to worse when he's around. His family isn't the most supportive either but they were such a fun read and there was more than one moment where I found myself chuckling out loud. (Try reading Gaius and his fight with his brother oh my, that was a good laugh.)

    There is more of a development in the relationship between Gaius and Tilla. I like how their character development is never quite finished but they develop enough so the reader is satisfied with the way they are throughout the novel. I enjoyed reading about both of them in this book much more. There's more feeling and emotion between the two. I love how Gaius just wants to take care of Tilla, but she goes out on her own anyway. I like her independence and her strength. The two really do compliment each other nicely.

    I enjoyed the plot. Suspects were great and each had a good motive. I was kept guessing although I did have a hunch about the last third of the book. Nevertheless I did like how the book ended and there was more action mentioned to make the plot more exciting and the pace was faster. It was also interesting to note, that early Christians are introduced into the story. I thought that was well done and it did give the plot a much more historical feel to it. When it comes to historical accuracy, I liked it and it seemed pretty accurate to me. Downie's descriptions are well written and the setting is pictured clearly. I believe she does provide an Author's Note at the back to explain certain inconsistencies and provides more information.

    I do wish there was more to the 'Dramatis Personae' at the beginning of the book. It is a little hard to keep track of all the characters (Gaius has a family that could rival The Brady Bunch) plus the suspects, plus other secondary characters. It's a lot to figure out and I thought the list of characters in the beginning could use a little more clarification.

    To fans of Gaius, it's a great book. I absolutely enjoyed this and the way the book ended paves the way for much more to look forward to. I believe the change of setting is what helped a lot for this book (and quite possibly the series). It's a great addition to this series, and I'm looking forward to the next one. Ruth Downie just gets better and better with each book!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 1, 2014

    Great audio book

    It is a very good audio book. Both book and artistic reading are excellent and I enjoyed listening to the book!

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  • Posted April 17, 2013

    A good addition to the series...It would probably be helpful to

    A good addition to the series...It would probably be helpful to have read the first two, to understand the somewhat unusual relationship between the lead characters, and also to have some backstory on the family demands.  That said, I enjoyed being privy to the way these two do finally decide to flaunt societal customs and commit.  An intriguing look at Roman customs, the role (surprising) of women in that society,  and the deplorable role of human "entertainment" in the colosseum.  

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 20, 2012

    Destructivestar

    Sparkclan apprentice den. Dstar

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 12, 2012

    Page turner!!!!

    Wonderful series......on to #4!!!!

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  • Posted September 5, 2009

    Interesting

    Second in series and if you enjoyed first book you will definitely enjoy this one. Light reading but enjoyable.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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