I`ve been meaning to get around to Steven Saylor`s Roma Sub Rosa mysteries for a long time. I´m a total sucker for historical mysteries and have read my way through the Brother Cafael and the Sister Freivisse series. I`m also devouring the Molly Murphy mysteries when I can get my hands on them. Mix that in with the number of other authors I follow and the limited amount of time I have to read and you can see my problem. Add the fact that I`ve spent the last couple of years living overseas and that problem becomes an impossibility.
Well, when I found myself running the library at my school in Chile and further find a copy of Murder on the Appian Way, I leaped at the opportunity.
Murder on the Appian Way covers a period of unrest on Roman hitory, shortly before Julius Ceasar becomes The Ceasar. A Roman citizen and mover and shaker named Clodius is apparently murdered by a long time rival named Milo. Milo swears he is innocent, but is put on trial and defended by Cicero. This is historical fact. Enter the fictional Gordianus the Finder who is caught between the grieving widow, the grieving sister, Pompey the Great, Marc Antony, Cicero, Milo and Ceasar, charged with finding the truth. And he takes a fair beating doing it, but he comes up roses in the end.
Now, I´m no Roman history buff, but it all looked pretty realistic to me, from the politics of Rome to the politics of the Roman household. I feel I got a good education on the Roman system without once being or lost. The mystery presented an interesting knot that I was able to figure out, but I doubted my solution until the very end. The cameo appearances by historical figures are always a treat for me and this books was loaded up to and including the dead guy and the bad guy! Saylor gave everyone very plausible characters considering what they went on to do. And the constant commentary about the cold hit home for me as well. No central heating in Chile or Ancient Rome! Even the lack of a tidy ending didn't bother me. Usually that does, but I bought the fact that Gordianus was living in the byzantine political environment of Ancient Rome.
Overall I felt it was a worthy and fun read and you know what that means, I have another author add to list. I may also have to read Ceasar`s Women which happens to be here in the school liry and covers the same period.
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