From the Publisher
"Downie injects a modern who-done-it twist into the imperial action." -Kirkus
Library Journal - Audio
Gaius Petreius Ruso, physician to the Twentieth Legion, and his British wife, Tilla, travel north to Eboracum in advance of Hadrian's first visit to Britain in Downie's (Caveat Emptor) latest. As usual, Ruso's honesty and sense of honor have him up to his neck in trouble as he uncovers crimes and shenanigans and the subsequent official cover-ups. Simon Vance's performance improves an already terrific work, his Latin and Celtic pronunciations adding to the rich historical detail of a book that features the lives of ordinary soldiers and culture conflict with the tribes of occupied Britain. VERDICT This gripping story will delight fans of Rosemary Sutcliff, Lindsay Davis, Stephen Saylor, and John Maddox Roberts—and anyone else who enjoys historical mysteries. The title stands well alone, but first-time listeners will want the earlier books. ["In Ruso, an ancient character modern readers will easily relate to, Downie creates a likable protagonist who navigates the terrain and politics of Roman Britannia with humor and good intentions," read the review of the Bloomsbury hc, LJ Xpress Reviews, 12/21/12.—Ed.]—Janet Martin, Southern Pines P.L., NC
In Downie’s fifth novel (after Caveat Emptor) to feature Gaius Petreius Ruso, the Roman doctor and his wife travel from one camp to another as part of the Twentieth Legion serving in Britannia. Accidents and fatal injuries haunt the new native recruits as they settle in with their Roman counterparts, and Ruso finds his skills as a doctor and as an investigator in high demand. Imprisoned after asking too many questions about the tensions between the troops and their officers, Ruso must discover for himself the real crimes and the true criminals while not running afoul of Emperor Hadrian and his entourage.
Verdict In Ruso, an ancient character modern readers will easily relate to, Downie creates a likable protagonist who navigates the terrain and politics of Roman Britannia with humor and good intentions. This latest installment in the best-selling series will delight readers of history, mystery, and popular fiction.Catherine Lantz, Morton Coll. Lib., Cicero, IL(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
The subtitle of this novel is important--"A Novel of the Roman Empire"--lest we think it's about the Marine Corps. Downie's narrative unfolds in a remote outpost of the empire, along the northern border of England (or more accurately, Britannia). Although the 20th Legion is stationed along the frontier, untoward things have been happening--like the deaths of recent recruits to the Roman army, deaths that might be suicides except they're occurring with alarming frequency. Legionnaire Gaius Petreius Ruso, a medical doctor, starts to investigate why these deaths have come about, and he uncovers some rather sordid imperial activity. Geminus, one of the Roman centurions, has been promoting fights to the death among Roman soldiers, for example, and having the legionnaires bet on the outcomes. Ruso's wife, Tilla, a native of Britannia and hence somewhat suspect to the other Roman soldiers, is also wondering why this has been happening and wants to help her husband's investigation. Tension ratchets up when two things happen: Geminus is found murdered and Hadrian, the emperor, is coming to inspect how the empire is faring along the periphery. Because of his curiosity about Geminus' role in the deaths of the young soldiers, Ruso becomes a prime suspect in the murder, so he's arrested on what seems a trumped-up charge. Hadrian visits this corner of Britannia since, after all, there's a wall to build. Downie injects a modern who-done-it twist into the imperial action.