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
At long last, Gaius Petreius Ruso and his companion, Tilla, are headed home to Gaul. But with Tilla getting icy greetings from Ruso's relatives, a family member having mysteriously drowned at sea, and the whole Ruso household teetering on the edge of bankruptcy, it's hard to imagine an unhappier reunion. That is, until Severus, the family's chief creditor, winds up… See more details below
At long last, Gaius Petreius Ruso and his companion, Tilla, are headed home to Gaul. But with Tilla getting icy greetings from Ruso's relatives, a family member having mysteriously drowned at sea, and the whole Ruso household teetering on the edge of bankruptcy, 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…
Engrossing, intricate, and--as always--wonderfully comic, Ruth Downie's latest is a brilliant new installment in this irresistible series.
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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