cover image Last Seen in Massilia: A Novel of Ancient Rome

Last Seen in Massilia: A Novel of Ancient Rome

Steven W. Saylor, Author Minotaur Books $23.95 (288p) ISBN 978-0-312-20928-5

In Saylor's latest and stellar historical (after Rubicon), the Roman world is still embroiled in civil war between rival generals Pompey and Julius Caesar. Caught in the morass of conflicting loyalties, Gordianus the Finder travels to the independent city-state of Massilia (present-day Marseilles) to investigate a rumor that his son, Meto, has been killed there. Gordianus finds Massilia under siege, but thanks to an odd stroke of luck that brings disaster to the besieging army, he's able to slip into the city. There he meets Hieronymus, whom the priests have selected as the scapegoat who will throw himself off the harbor's Sacrifice Rock to appease the gods and bring relief to the city. Gordianus later witnesses what looks like murder: a cloaked woman falls from Sacrifice Rock, perhaps assisted by a man dressed in the armor of a Massilian soldier. The leader of Massilia, Apollonides, promises to investigate, but when a Gaulish merchant named Arausio believes his daughter, Rindel, was the cloaked woman who fell, Gordianus begins his own queries. In the meantime, he continues to search for information about his missing son. Is Meto alive and playing some treacherous game on Caesar's behalf? Or did he die in an attempt to escape from Pompey's minions in Massilia? Saylor presents a vivid tableau of an ancient city under siege and an empire riven by internecine strife. Readers will impatiently long for the next book in what stands as one of today's finest historical mystery series. Author tour; U.K. rights sold. (Oct.)