The Catiline Conspiracy

John Maddox Roberts, Author
John Maddox Roberts, Author Avon Books $3.5 (0p) ISBN 978-0-380-75995-8
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Roberts ( SPQR ) again proves that he's perfectly at home in the urban sprawl of ancient Rome as his sleuth Decius Caecilius Metellus the Younger follows a trail of suspicious deaths to the heart of a dangerous conspiracy. When a banker and a building contractor are murdered in the street, Roman officials are disinterested. Although the second murder was clumsily amateurish, Decius suspects the murders are related and ominous portents of things to come: he also has stumbled on a cache of arms hidden in the Temple of Saturn. Well born but temporarily stuck in a low-level government job, Decius needs only to contrive a bit of grumbling at parties to gain a reputation as a malcontent--and an invitation to further his ambitions by joining Lucius Sergius Catilina's treasonous bid for power. As Decius pursues the investigation, his account is spiced with observations on Rome's politics and personalities. Readers familiar with the period will be entertained by passing references, such as to the posturing Julius Caesar or to young Catullus, fresh from the country and besotted with Clodia. ( Apr. )
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