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Historical Fiction

A Gladiator Dies Only Once

Hot off the press, Saylor's books are always on my wish-list! This collection of short stories covers Gordianus' early career.

The Judgement of Caesar

Gordianus and his family travel to Alexandria, home of Gordianus' ailing wife and hotbed of political intrigue as the descendants of Alexander's general Ptolemy, Cleopatra and her husband/brother battle for the crown of Egypt.

A Body in the Bathouse

After finding a corpse beneath the tiles of his father's bathouse, Marcus Didius Falco decamps from Rome with his wife, daughters and reluctant sister for the province of Britannia, on the trail of two corrupt mosaicists, investigating graft and corruption at a local king's villa construction project.

The October Horse

Caesar may be the nominal protagonist of this last novel in a series of six chronicling the demise of the Roman Republic, but the presiding spirit is that of Octavian (later Augustus), Caesar's successor and Rome's first emperor. McCullough's Octavian is as complex and gifted as her Caesar, but far less moral, just or merciful-a fitting ruler for a Rome grown too unwieldy for republican government.

Other books in the series include: First Man in Rome, The Grass Crown, Fortune's Favourites, Caesar.

Ode to a Banker

In Davis's 12th Marcus Didius Falco story, the Roman informer, a sort of Columbo in a dirty toga, investigates a sensational murder connected to the worlds of poetry, publishing and banking. It's a good mystery and the reader doesn't suspect the perpetrator until all is gradually revealed, then everything makes perfect sense.

Roma Sub Rosa: The works of Steven Saylor

A Mist of Prophecies

In the ninth book in Saylor's "Roma Sub Rosa" series of mysteries set in ancient Rome, Gordianus the Finder has now retired from his life as an investigator of crime and political intrigue and has settled into peaceful domesticity with his family. But his newfound tranquility is soon shattered by a series of events brought on by the continuing struggle between Julius Caesar and Pompey for supremacy over Rome.

Last Seen in Massilia

Set in Marseilles in 49 BCE., master detective Gordianus the Finder is on a personal quest to learn the truth about his missing son, Meto. Plunged into the midst of the bloody Roman civil war, the well-connected Gordianus and his son-in-law Davus survive adventure after adventure as they penetrate the Gallic city of Massilia, which is walled against Roman invasion.

Caesar and his troops have crossed the Rubicon and are marching on Rome. Pompey, his rival, prepares to flee south with the Senate and his loyal troops, leaving the city unguarded, ungoverned, and on the verge of chaos.

In the midst of the mounting panic, Pompey's cousin and protege, Numerius, is found murdered, garroted in the garden of Gordianus the Finder. Enraged, Pompey demands that Gordianus investigate the murder and uncover the killer, taking his son-in-law held by Pompey, Gordianus must learn the secrets of a dead man and reveal his killer to protect his own family from being crushed by the opposing forces that will forever change the Roman world.

Catilina's Riddle

Set in ancient Rome, the latest in Saylor's carefully researched historical mystery series centers on the age-old theme of politics. Even in 63 BCE, it seems, ambitious, clever, scheming, scamming politicians flourished. Take Gordianus, a Roman citizen turned gentleman farmer who has fled noisy, crowded Rome to seek peace in the Etruscan countryside.

To his chagrin, Gordianus finds he can't escape the intrigues and influences of the city as easily as he had hoped. He becomes embroiled in a bitter political rivalry between his patron, Cicero, and a clever up-and-comer.

A Murder on the Appian Way

As civil war between Caesar and Pompey looms, lesser demagogues wage gang war in the streets of Rome. When the rabble-rouser Clodius is killed on the Appian Way, Rome erupts in flames. His arch-enemy Milo is the obvious suspect...or is he? Amidst the rioting, Gordianus is hired by both the dead man's family and none other than Pompeius Magnus to discover the truth.

The Venus Throw

On a chill January evening in 56 B.C., two strange visitors to Rome an Egyptian ambassador and a eunuch priest seek out Gordianus the Finder whose specialty is solving murders. But the ambassador, a philosopher named Dio, has come to ask for something Gordianus cannot give help in staying alive. Before the night is out, he is murdered.

The House of the Vestals

When I had the good fortune to meet Steven Saylor two years ago, he described the role that many of his fans played in dishing up this nice collection of short stories that fill in some of the questions raised by the popular Roma Sub Rosa series.

Set between the years 80 and 72 BCE., these nine tales document some of the early adventures of Gordianus the Finder between the time of Roman Blood and Arms of Nemesis.

During the course of these cases, Gordianus establishes firm and tender relationships with Eco, his adopted son. Bethesda, his Jewish-Egyptian concubine. Belbo, his l oyal manservant and bodyguard and Lucius Claudius, his generous patron.

First of Saylor's excellent Roma Sub Rosa series, this remains one of my favourites.

Marcus Tullius Cicero's papers are the inspiration for Saylor's first novel, a fictionalization of the immortal Roman orator's first important case his defense of well-heeled farmer Sextus Roscius on the charge of killing his hated father.

We meet narrator Gordianus the Finder, hired by Cicero to dig up evidence, and so good at his job that he soon learns the pretext that lured the elder Roscius to his death a summons from Elena, a young prostitute pregnant with a possible heir.

Gordianus ferrets out the location of the murder, finds witnesses who set him on the track of a brutal conspiracy, and reveals some interesting truths about the Roscius family in time for Cicero's famed courtroom histrionics.

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