SPQR XIII: The Year of Confusion

John Maddox Roberts, Author . Minotaur $24.99 (277p) ISBN 978-0-312-59507-4

Time is running out for Julius Caesar, whose assassination is little more than a year away, in Roberts's fine 13th whodunit to feature Sen. Decius Metellus as sleuth (after 2008's SPQR XII: Oracle of the Dead ). As 46 B.C. draws to an end, Caesar is turning the Roman Republic upside down by ordering the institution of a new calendar and assuming even more dictatorial power. Names familiar from Shakespeare, like Brutus and Cassius, are already gathering to voice their dissent. Meanwhile, Decius looks into the deaths of two astronomers, whose necks were broken by a method that stumps Rome's best doctors. The astronomers' links to the unpopular Julian calendar and to Caesar's mistress, Cleopatra, provide multiple avenues for Decius's investigation, which his wife, Julia, once again assists. That readers know Caesar's ultimate fate in no way detracts from the enjoyment of this inventive historical. (Feb.)

Reviewed on: 12/07/2009
Release date: 02/01/2010
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