SPQR X: A Point in Law

John Maddox Roberts, Author . St. Martin's Minotaur $23.95 (253p) ISBN 978-0-312-33725-4

The political turmoil that precedes Julius Caesar's return to Rome serves as the compelling backdrop for Roberts's 10th historical to feature nobleman Decius Caecilius Metellus the Younger (after 2005's The Princess and the Pirates ). Decius is standing for election as praetor, a judicial position that's viewed as a stepping-stone to a governorship. On the eve of the vote, an unknown man, Marcus Fulvius, accuses Decius of corruption, threatening what had seemed like a sure thing. Still reeling from the charges, Decius finds himself in deeper trouble after Fulvius turns up dead. Aided by family members and friends, Decius teases out the competing powers with a stake in his defeat. The death throes of the Roman Republic are a worthy setting for a thriller, and Roberts displays his usual deftness in making the period come to life. Those more interested in the murder's solution may be disappointed by the Perry Mason–like device employed to expose the culprit. (May)

Reviewed on: 03/06/2006
Release date: 05/01/2006
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