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SPQR XIII: The Year of Confusion: A Mystery (The SPQR Roman Mysteries) Paperback – January 18, 2011
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
“That readers know Caesar's ultimate fate in no way detracts from the enjoyment of this inventive historical.” ―Publishers Weekly
“Decius' first-person narrative is as sharp as ever, and the customary map and generous glossary will help transport readers back to ancient Rome.” ―Kirkus Reviews
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Top Customer Reviews
As usual in the series, Decius sets a light tone, bantering casually through Rome's highest social circles. However, behind the light mood, there are many darker notes. For example, it slowly becomes clear that Decius is now the last survivor of his formerly powerful family and he needs to move with more care than before. Decius gently touches on the various ambitious politicians orbiting around Caesar amidst hints of emerging conspiracies.
The murder mystery is adequate but the real fun comes from touring Rome with Decius, seeing its sights and studying its ways. A good four stars.
Quick historical note: Although Decius is fictional, the Caecilii Metelli were real. In their day they were one of the greatest of the plebian families, with at least ten "Quintus Caecilius Metellus"es becoming consul, but they vanished from history after siding against Caesar in the Civil War. Our fictional Decius may owe his survival to his happy marriage to Julia, a (fictional) niece of Caesar.
It isn't bad, it just seems to have less of what Roberts usually provides: wit, pace and interesting twists. By all means give it a try, but wait for the paperback, or check it out of the library.
At first Decius is more concerned with Cleopatra being in the city than he is of a bunch of scientists creating a new calendar. However the situation turns dangerous when an astronomer Denades is murdered with his neck broken. He has strange markings on his neck but the doctor feels it it hard to judge how the killer made them. Even the Chief Physician in Rome does not how the killer was able to extinguish is prey. Caesar orders Decius to find the killer, which proves difficult to accomplish because all suspects are lying about something or concealing something.
As always John Maddox Roberts writes a fantastic Ancient Roman mystery that gives the reader a sense of the era and the culture during the time of Caesar. This enables the audience to envision the City-State Empire warped inside a whodunit. Decius is a great detective, whose investigation is all the more remarkable because of the limitations of sleuthing in the first century BC. Sub-genre fans will enjoy joining him on his inquiry.
Calendar reform doesn't make Decius popular, but when astronomers start being murdered, he's the man on the spot to investigate.
Decius's investigations take place against the backdrop of late Republican politics. Caesar has been generous and forgiving, meaning that Rome is full of his enemies. Rather than gratitude, those enemies are plotting against him and looking for every angle of attack. One of those angles is Caesar's Egyptian connection. And Romans have always feared Egypt. It's so wealthy that its ruler could practically own Rome, and now Caesar is its ruler.
A host of historical characters, Caesar himself, Brutus, Casius, Marcus Antonius make their appearances as Decius tries to get the bottom of the murders. But it's the women, mothers and wives and lovers, who drive the story forward. In the meantime, Decius sees Caesar making more and more questionable decisions as he prepares for a war against Parthia...a war that Decius fears will go no better for Caesar than it did for his former collegue, Crassus.
Author John Maddox Roberts writes a convincing story of Rome in the time of the dying Republic. Decius, with his love of wine and appreciation for beautiful women, makes for an interesting protagonist as well as for his viewpoint into the larger picture of Roman politics. Fans of Roman History as well as of Decius Metellus will enjoy this one.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
John Maddox Roberts, using the first person of a Roman politician takes you to the time of Julius Caesar. The emperor revamps the calendar and orders our hero to enforce it. Read morePublished 2 months ago by R. Darnell
This is the last one in the series. I'm so sad. A light but funny and educational look at ancient Rome.Published 10 months ago by Amazon Customer
None of Roberts' works are masterpieces of literature. They are all FUN to read! I hope that he keeps producing them. I am waiting for SPQR XIV!Published 13 months ago by Frank Harrison
This, I presume, is the final book in Roberts’ SPQR series; it ends more or less with the assassination of Julius Caesar, and this book was published in 2010 and there hasn’t been... Read morePublished 20 months ago by D. G. Hulan
I like the aging Decius--I found the incessant ogling (& schtupping) of frankly rather dull femme fatales earlier in the series alternately boring and annoying. Read morePublished 20 months ago by Amazon Customer
Decius is still with us, and still deliciously cynical. He is, however, getting older and more tired, and so is the series. Read morePublished on December 28, 2013 by Anne Mills
The book was typical of the series. I am very interested in Roman history so I really enjoyed the parts where Roberts talks about the day to day life in Rome at the time of Julius... Read morePublished on November 24, 2013 by L. C Glover
This was my least favorite in the series. It just doesn't have the excitement or story line I've come to enjoy in his books and I found the ending dead and disappointing. Read morePublished on April 24, 2013 by Vita
And so the end has come. For the series, the Caecilii Metelli, Decius Caecilius Metellus. And for me, a great fan of SPQR, it is more bitter than sweet. Consummatum est. Read morePublished on September 6, 2012 by Georgina Ortiz