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

4.1 out of 5 stars 93 customer reviews

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Length: 366 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The third installment to Downie's Roman Empire series—the second-century saga of a witty and courageous army surgeon, Gaius Ruso, and his smart and loyal lover, Tilla, a barbarian woman from Britannia—continues in gripping fashion. Ruso returns to his family home in southern Gaul, summoned by a forged letter pleading for his immediate return. Once Ruso and Tilla return, Ruso is thrust into a dangerous quagmire involving a missing ship, huge family debts and, before long, the murder of the family's principal creditor—a crafty phony named Severus—who is poisoned in Ruso's home. While Ruso and his family are quickly suspected of the murder, Ruso and Tilla's attempts to solve the crime are hampered by interfering family members, a lying politician, a greedy banker and a pair of too-eager investigators sent from Rome. Ruso and Tilla must also deal with prejudice, envy and a new religion, Christianity. The plotting is clever and suspenseful, with subtle clues and lots of action, while the setting and supporting cast are vividly drawn. This is solid entertainment, nicely done. (July)
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: 1602 KB
  • Print Length: 366 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA; 1 edition (July 14, 2009)
  • Publication Date: July 14, 2009
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B002WOD8YC
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #244,055 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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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

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Paperback
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.
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