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Persona Non Grata: A Novel of the Roman Empire (Gaius Petreius Ruso Mystery Series Book 3) [Kindle Edition]

Ruth Downie
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (85 customer reviews)

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Historical Fiction
An epic historical military adventure, Constantinopolis plots out the future of civilization as shaped by a number of fascinating characters. Learn more

Book Description

At long last, Gaius Petreius Ruso and his companion, Tilla, are headed home-to Gaul. Having received a note consisting only of the words "COME HOME!" Ruso has (reluctantly, of course) pulled up stakes and brought Tilla to meet his family.

But the reception there is not what Ruso has hoped for: no one will admit to sending for him, and his brother Lucius is hoping he'll leave. With Tilla getting icy greetings from his relatives, Lucius' brother-in-law mysteriously drowned at sea, and the whole Ruso family being sued for bankruptcy, it's hard to imagine an unhappier reunion. That is, until Severus, the plaintiff in the bankruptcy suit, winds up dead, and the real trouble begins...

Engrossing, intricate, and-as always-wonderfully comic, Ruth Downie's latest is a brilliant new installment in this irresistible series. This is everything we've come to expect from our charming, luckless hero.

Books In This Series (4 Books)
Complete Series

  • Editorial Reviews

    From Publishers Weekly

    While recovering from an injury incurred in Britannia while serving with the Roman army, Gaius Ruso receives a mysterious summons and heads home to Gaul to find his estate in danger of bankruptcy. When the major creditor drops dead, Ruso is at the top of the list of poisoning suspects. Proven to be something of an investigator in the two previous books in the series, Ruso nimbly thwarts obstacles to track down the true murderer. It is understood that the characters are speaking Latin, Greek, and various ancient languages of the British Isles. This might prove a challenge to a lesser reader, but the mighty Simon Vance takes it in stride. He gives the characters British accents of differing classes or regions, and this creative twist gives the light, entertaining historical mystery added charm and vitality. A Bloomsbury hardcover (Reviews, May 18). (Sept.)
    Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


    "Persona Non Grata brims with the complex characters and rich detail that have made this series a must for period mystery buffs." ---Booklist

    Product Details

    • File Size: 1607 KB
    • Print Length: 366 pages
    • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA; 1 edition (July 14, 2009)
    • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
    • Language: English
    • ASIN: B002WOD8YC
    • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
    • X-Ray:
    • Word Wise: Not Enabled
    • Lending: Enabled
    • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #93,136 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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    Customer Reviews

    4.1 out of 5 stars
    4.1 out of 5 stars
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    Most Helpful Customer Reviews
    42 of 43 people found the following review helpful
    4.0 out of 5 stars Ruso Goes Home August 15, 2009
    Ruth Downie returns with the third book in her Ruso the Medicus series. Ruso is a military doctor in the Roman army who was introduced to readers a couple years ago while serving Brittania in Medicus: A Novel of the Roman Empire. In this volume, fans get to meet the family we have heard about from a distance as it were. Ruso is recalled by an urgent letter from his brother - or so it seems.

    Ruso arrives (with his `barbarian' lover Tilla in tow) to find his family fortune in shambles. When their chief creditor drops dead (apparently from poisoning) during a visit to Ruso's home, suspicion quickly focuses on Ruso. The rest of the book is spent unraveling that mystery and reinstating the family fortunes.

    Along the way the reader learns a bit about Roman life, law, politics, and entertainment. Tilla pointedly questions who are the real barbarians, when part of the `games' sponsored by a local politician include the standard execution of criminal by tying the thief to post and letting wild animals eat them for dinner. Tilla also has a brush with the group of Christos and her attempts to understand this god who is everywhere and knows everything are fun.

    As with the first two books, Downie uses light touch to combine a mystery with some history. Fans of historical mysteries, especially Roman ones like Steven Saylor's The Triumph of Caesar: A Novel of Ancient Rome (Roma Sub Rosa), will enjoy Persona Non Grata: A Novel of the Roman Empire. Recommended.
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    29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
    4.0 out of 5 stars The best Ruso book to date August 22, 2009
    Normally when I read a historical fiction novel the book is set in Medieval England, but a few months ago I found a series set in England (Britannia back then) during the Roman occupation. I read the first two in a matter of weeks but was not sure I would read the third; the second seemed a little bit of a disappointment. As fate would have it, I won a copy of the third from the publisher and just finished it this morning. I would have finished it last night had my eyes not finally given out.

    Persona Non Grata is Ruth Downie's finest installment of her Gaius Petrius Ruso series to date. Ruso is a medic (before there were proper doctors and surgeons we had medics) working with the Roman military.

    Downie's writing skills have sharpened since her first novel The Medicus. Here in Persona Non Grata we get fully fleshed out secondary characters, a great plot line and some really great scenes. My favorite scene involves Tilla leading a prayer at a secret Christos meeting. I almost laughed till I cried. We get to meet Ruso's family including his ex-wife Claudia. The characters are all well written and often just as interesting as Ruso and Tilla. I came away understanding why Ruso would travel to the barbaric world of Britannia; with his family I would have too!
    This time the mystery hits very close to home and so it made perfect sense as to why Ruso would investigate it. I applaud Downie for having written evil characters that mirror some of our own Wall Street swindlers (though I admit I do not know of any wall street swindlers that have committed murder...yet). I get sick of bad guys who are so far gone that they do not seem in any way plausible. Many authors forget that even the bad guys have to connect with the reader on some level.
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    9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
    Persona Non Grata by Ruth Downie

    An officer in the Roman army, stationed in Britain, receives an urgent summons home. He finagles a questionable medical leave and returns to Italy with his "barbarian" girl friend. Once home he discovers that very little is clear and things have changed for the worse while he was away.

    The main characters are quite clearly portrayed. I think some of the more minor characters could have been fleshed out a bit more. I found my mouth dry in the description of the desiccated travel. Downie provides a good story line and provides an entertaining mystery set in a truly ancient time. What is surprising is the similarities to current events with money manipulations, attorneys and painful consequences. Her history and setting were quite accurate from the hazy recollections I have of my two years of Latin.

    I recommend the book.
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    4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
    4.0 out of 5 stars Russo and Tilla Meet the Family September 9, 2010
    By MrsLee
    Third in the Russo series, this story has the Medicus and Tilla returning to Rome. The family has called him home, but the welcome is not warm, especially for the barbarian woman. The estate is in chaos and mysteries abound.

    I enjoyed reading this, and though I had not read the previous books, I did not feel lost or disconnected in the narrative. Ruth Downie has a nice way of making the characters in her book both interesting and understandable. She also does a good job of setting the place for the story. Without much effort, I simply fell in along with the characters in their travels and activities. At times the story became slow, but towards the end the pace was lively. As for the mystery, I think she did a pretty good job. Certain aspects took me by surprise and I never felt cheated in the reveal.

    I wouldn't know about the historical accuracy, but after reading some comments by the author, I felt that she was not only trying to be accurate, but also trying to make the historical aspect real for us, rather than some far off storyland. She did a good job of that. As a Christian, I have to say that her scenes of the people of Christos interacting with the Pagans were delightful. One can see how they were perceived as being ridiculous, without them being so, and the misunderstandings that arose from some of the preposterous things they said, which could only be understood correctly by those in the Christos group. Still true today. My favorite scene in the book was the barbarian, Tilla, attending a Christos meeting. Very well done.

    All in all, I liked this story well enough to seek out the earlier tales and look for more in the future.
    Comment | 
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    Most Recent Customer Reviews
    5.0 out of 5 stars Great book and series
    Excellent series!
    Published 1 month ago by Amazon Power Shopper
    4.0 out of 5 stars I didn't like this book as well as the other two (books ...
    I didn't like this book as well as the other two (books 1 and 2 in the series) as the Medicus Ruso and his barbarian woman went to his home in Gaul. I want them back in Britain. Read more
    Published 2 months ago by Kindle Customer
    5.0 out of 5 stars Great read!
    Excellent! Captures the time and atmosphere of ancient Rome. Story moves at a good pace, great characters, wonderful insight into the world of ancient Roman people, from the... Read more
    Published 2 months ago by B. McGarry
    4.0 out of 5 stars ... 20th Legion of the Roman Army in Britain are fun, funny
    the stories the author has written of the life and trials of Medicus Ruso of the 20th Legion of the Roman Arry in Britain are fun, funny, and seem quite real. Read more
    Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
    4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
    Very entertaining read
    Published 3 months ago by Jeanette Latessa
    5.0 out of 5 stars Book three was back in form
    This is a great series to revisit - it was just as much fun the second time around as it was the first. Read more
    Published 5 months ago by GGY
    4.0 out of 5 stars Good
    It,s a good book for a slow enjoyable read . I will read the next in the series for sure.
    Published 6 months ago by jilp and Jon
    4.0 out of 5 stars ... 3rd book in the series I've read and I enjoyed each of them
    This is the 3rd book in the series I've read and I enjoyed each of them. Setting them in ancient times makes for a fun read. Read more
    Published 7 months ago by Amazon Customer
    4.0 out of 5 stars Best yet
    As the third book in a series, I expected this one to lag a bit, but the mystery was well crafted and the introduction of Ruso's family of origin added wonderful characters and... Read more
    Published 8 months ago by Rev. Judith Kelsey-Powell
    5.0 out of 5 stars Viva La Gaul!!
    The reviews are divided between loving this story and liking it. I loved it as well as the first three; each one is more about Ruso and Tilla. Read more
    Published 8 months ago by diamondgirl
    Search Customer Reviews

    More About the Author

    Ruth (RS) Downie graduated from university with an English degree and a plan to get married and live happily ever after. She is still working on it. In the meantime she is also the New York Times bestselling author of a mystery series featuring Roman doctor Gaius Petreius Ruso.

    The latest book is Tabula Rasa, set during the building of Hadrian's Wall.

    The previous five are:

    Medicus (the first story, published as 'Medicus/Ruso and the Disappearing Dancing Girls' in the UK and Australia)

    Terra Incognita ('Ruso and the Demented Doctor')

    Persona non Grata ('Ruso and the Root of All Evils')

    Caveat Emptor ('Ruso and the River of Darkness')

    Semper Fidelis (at last, only one title everywhere!)

    Ruth is not the RS Downie who writes real medical textbooks. Absolutely none of the medical advice in the Ruso books should be followed. Roman and Greek doctors were very wise about many things but they were also known to prescribe donkey dung and boiled cockroaches.

    Find out more at


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