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Lunch » Tags » Books » Reviews » Persona Non Grata: A Novel of the Roman Empire » User review

Ruso and the poisoned man

  • Jan 24, 2010
Rating:
+5
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 to end. Ruso's female companion from Britain faces a crisis of trying to accommodate herself to the mores of Southern Gaul, and not falter in the face of disdain from Ruso's family. The female head of the family, Ruso's step-mother, is determined to get him married off to a wealthy widow, and that only complicates Tilla's problems.

Things move along very quickly. There are a few subplots, including one about a connection between one of Ruso's sisters and a young gladiator, and we get a glimpse of how the early Christians conducted themselves in the face of dislike by the rest of the people. Of course, everything comes out all right in the end, and we are left eagerly awaiting the next installment of this series. May it come soon!

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About the reviewer
Frank J. Konopka ()
Ranked #93
I'm a small town general practice attorney in the hard coal region of Pennsylvania. Books are my passion, andI read as many of them asI can. Being the President of the local library board for over … more
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Wiki

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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Details

ISBN-10: 1596916095
ISBN-13: 978-1596916098
Author: Ruth Downie
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA

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