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A Roman Ransom
Libertus Mystery of Roman Britain #8

by Rosemary Rowe

      Hapless ex-slave and mosaic artist Libertus is back for an eighth case, this time confined to his bed (or rather pallet) after a bout of fever. He is brought back from the brink by careful nursing from Marcusí new Greek doctor Philades, only to be instantly given a new and urgent case to solve. Marcusí beloved wife Julia and infant son Marcellinus have been kidnapped from their own home and will be killed unless a prisoner is freed. Libertus finds himself being carried into his patronís house in order to solve the kidnapping, but soon finds that his new doctor hates him and wants to frame him.

This is an absorbing tale of Britain in the 2nd century when the Romans were well-established rulers. Libertus makes an admirable narrator, giving us an outsiderís view into Roman British society. These books give a fairly accurate picture of what life was like for slaves, and Marcus is an apt portrayal of an imperious and sometimes benevolent patrician, whose viewpoint is the polemic opposite of Libertusí. This is a good place to find out what life in a large Roman villa might have been like, and what tasks the various slaves employed would have done. But it is not just a well-researched background, as here is a compelling story that I didnít get to the bottom of entirely, some well-placed dry humor and a cast of interesting characters. This is surely a series that will go on and on, remaining fresh and inventive.

The Book

June 2006
Historical Crime [188 AD, Gloucester, UK]
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The Reviewer

Rachel A Hyde
Reviewed 2006
© 2006