Review: Persona Non Grata

Persona Non Grata (published in the UK and Australia as Ruso and the Root of All Evils)
Ruth Downie
Bloomsbury, 2010 (2009)
Giveaway from Goodreads’ First Reads

“Is it true someone’s trying to bankrupt us?”

Lucius leaned back in their father’s chair and folded his arms. “If I were to say no,” he said, “and ask you to go straight back to Deva for the good of the family, would you do it?”

“I can’t,” Ruso pointed out. “I had to wangle months of leave to get here.”

“So you can’t go back to the Legion.” Lucius managed to look even more depressed.

“Arria says somebody’s applied for a seizure order.”

Lucius let out a long breath. “There’s a law somewhere,” he said, “that says you can’t take out a seizure order against someone who’s away from home on public service.”

Ruso began to grasp the nature of the problem. “Does that apply to an ordinary man in the army?”

“The last thing I would have done, brother, was to ask you to come home.”

“So it’s true then? We have a legal problem?”

“We do now,” said Lucius.

In Persona Non Grata, the third in Ruth Downie’s Medicus series set in second-century Roman Britannia, Gaius Petreius Ruso and his British companion Tilla (also known as Darlughdacha of the Corionotatae among the Brigantes) travel to southern Gaul, summoned by an ominous letter that says only, “Lucius to Gaius. Come home, brother.” As their father’s heir and effective (if not necessarily effectual) paterfamilias, Ruso has known for some time of his family’s precarious financial situation, legacy of the massive debts their father incurred during his second marriage. Fearing the worst, Ruso arranges leave from his duties as surgeon to the XX Legion and hurries home.

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Review: The Legatus Mystery

The Legatus Mystery
Rosemary Rowe
Headline Book Publishing, 2005 (2003)
Purchased new MMPB.

Roman citizen I might be – indeed I was born a nobleman in my own tribe – but I was also an ex-slave and a tradesman, and the gulf between myself and Marcus was as great as that between me and the bath-house attendant himself. Without the most explicit instructions I would never have dared to come seek my patron here.

In late second-century Glevum (modern Gloucester), a body is discovered in a shrine to the Emperor Commodus, living embodiment of Hercules. The mere fact of the crime is shocking enough, but complicating matters are the facts that the emperor is not one to take sacrilege of his divine person lightly and that the victim appears to be an ambassador from Rome.

Then the body disappears, and there are reports of unearthly wailing and phantom bloodstains. Continue reading