SPQR XI: Under Vesuvius

John Maddox Roberts, Author . St. Martin's Minotaur/Dunne $23.95 (211p) ISBN 978-0-312-37088-6

The brisk 11th Decius Metellus Roman historical (after 2006's SPQR X: A Point of Law ) finds tensions increasing between Julius Caesar and Pompey. Series hero Decius has been elected praetor peregrinus , traveling magistrate in charge of all cases involving foreigners. A relaxing stay in a southern Italian town near the legendary volcano Vesuvius is disrupted by the murder of Gorgo, the attractive young daughter of the local priest. Anger quickly grows against her forbidden lover, Gelon, a Numidian, but Decius's instincts tell him that another is responsible for the killing. The solution owes more to a chance discovery than reasoned deduction, and the political upheaval of the time is more distant background noise than an immediate concern for the characters. Though the details and overall impression of ancient Rome aren't at the high level of Steven Saylor, readers looking for a crafty and entertaining journey to the past won't be disappointed. (Dec.)

Reviewed on: 10/01/2007
Release date: 12/01/2007
Paperback - 211 pages - 978-0-312-37089-3
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