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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)
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ISBN-10:  1596916095
ISBN-13:  978-1596916098
Author:  Ruth Downie
Publisher:  Bloomsbury USA
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review by . January 24, 2010
In this third installment of an excellent series, our protagonist, Ruso, is called home to find that his family is facing a severe financial crisis. When he is negotiating with the instigator of this crisis, who is now the husband of Ruso's former wife, the man dies, and Ruso concludes that he was poisoned. Of course, everyone tends to believe that Ruso is the poisoner, and things seem to go from bad to worse.    This is well written, and the plot kept me interested from beginning …
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Persona Non Grata: A Novel of the Roman Empire
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