Another Review at MyShelf.Com

Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Release Date: December 2003
ISBN: 1590580753
Format Reviewed: Hardback
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Genre:  Historical Crime [AD91, Roman York and Environs]
Reviewed: 2004
Reviewer: Rachel A Hyde
Reviewer Notes:  

Get Out Or Die
By Jane Finnis

     Aurelia Marcella and her half-sister Albia run the Oak Tree Mansion, a prosperous inn on the road to Eburacum (modern York). When the book opens, she has just found a young man outside, battered and unconscious. This is the start of a series of killings and assaults, each of them bearing a message that all Romans must leave the country or be killed. This is apparently the work of disgruntled local rebels, led by the fancifully masked Shadow of Death, and soon nobody is safe and Romans are living in fear of being next to be decapitated and left as a message. It is up to the plucky and resourceful Aurelia and her friends to find out whodunit and bring them to justice, but it isn’t going to be as easy as it sounds to identify who is on the side of the enemy.

     This is a wonderfully good-humored and easy-to-read tale for all its considerable 350+ pages that hopefully heralds a new series. Aurelia’s contemporary, straight-talking style makes her a perfect narrator (although at times perhaps she sounds a bit too modern) and the reader is plunged into a pacey story straight away. To its detriment, there is some repetition as body after body is found and the investigators rack their brains. Some editing could have been done in places, but there is always enough going on to keep the plot bubbling merrily away. There is also a convincing background of Romans who want to settle down and make a go of life on the frontier and locals who either think this is a good or dreadful thing, depending on their disposition. Think of a western set in 1st century Yorkshire and all the more believable for not being overdone.. The leading characters are all rather lovable, and the villains colourful and hissable in a broad sense, making this bright, shiny debut just the thing to relax with somewhere. When’s the next one coming out?