By: Bruce Macbain
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Publishing Date: March 2013
Reviewed by: Mary Lignor
Review Date: March 2013
This mystery is the second in a series, the first being Roman Games. The main character, Plinius Secundus, has just been sent by Roman Emperor Trajan to serve as Governor in the Roman province of Bithynia-Pontus. This particular province is not a great place and you have to feel for this Governor as he is charged with cleaning up corruption in many high places.
Most of the local population is comprised of Greek citizens, some Persians, and also a cult that has a cave in the woods where they meet to worship a Barbarian God who will remind readers of the mighty Minotaur.
Readers follow a murder mystery involving the theft of money committed by two men in the government. When the new Governor begins his investigation into this crime the story goes from good to grand as everything odd about Ancient Rome is unveiled. The mysterious religious cult that meets in a cave comes along with a cast of characters that will confuse and delight - a young boy with epilepsy which the Romans refer to as the sacred disease, a beautiful Persian who runs the local brothel and a group of Roman wives who resemble the ‘Real Housewives of New Jersey.’ As the criminals come forth and the suspects mount up, readers will find themselves pulled in and rooting for the Governor who may be in way over his head.
Even though this book takes place in ancient times, the reality of it is that the plotlines are very familiar. Researched beautifully, this author knows his subject and adds some scenes that bring out the true history of that time. It also presents ancient governments that will remind one and all of the mess current governments are in and how they are run. The Governor is a really nice guy who takes good care of his people and tries very hard to govern by doing his job and not offending anyone. He is a hard worker and pays attention to his duties even though sometimes it’s very difficult, as people do not respect him or his office.
Quill says: Although the story is a bit difficult to get into, once you are in – you’ll never get out as the Godfather so rightly said. It was a fantastic read, utilizing fact and fiction where the reader will not be pleased with the Romans who took over the world but, if you remember, couldn’t keep it.