From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. At the start of bestseller Saylor's stellar 10th novel in his Roma Sub Rosa series featuring Gordianus the Finder (after 2004's The Judgment of Caesar
), Gordianus is at first reluctant to accept a commission from Julius Caesar's wife, Calpurnia, to discover which of the general's many enemies may be plotting her husband's assassination soon after his victory in the Roman civil war. When Calpurnia reveals that the first man she'd hired for the job, Hieronymous, was murdered, the sleuth agrees to help because Hieronymous was an old friend of his. The suspects in Hieronymous's death, who include such prominent figures of the period as Cleopatra and Marc Antony, may well be the ones seeking to kill Caesar. Since the action takes place two years before Caesar's actual death in 44 B.C., there's little suspense about the outcome, but Saylor ably rises to the challenge. The convincing backdrop of daily life in ancient Rome helps make this compelling whodunit a triumph. Author tour. (May)
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*Starred Review* Gordianus the Finder is a marvelous example of a credible early-history sleuth—sophisticated, cagey, and loosely attached to the shifting power structure of Rome in the time of Caesar, Pompey, Cato, and Cicero. This latest in the Roma Sub Rosa series in which Gordianus stars is set just after the Roman civil war has ended, but with the nation-state still in uproar over murders, betrayals, and a calendar system out of sync with the seasons. Gordianus, now 64, has retired from his role of solving mysteries, big and small, for the powers-that-be. Then he receives a summons from Calpurnia, Caesar’s second wife, who says she fears for Caesar’s safety, especially since Caesar is totally distracted by the plans for four upcoming triumphs. Calpurnia shows Gordianus the murdered body of his friend Hieronymous (Hieronymous was the scapegoat portrayed in Last Seen in Massilia, 2000). This hook brings Gordianus into searching for the enemies of Caesar. Guided by Hieronymous’ journal, Gordianus plunges into the scary, fascinating world of Roman plots and betrayals. Saylor brings Roman history to vivid life in his series, filling his books with both the big picture of what happened and intriguing minutiae (for example, we learn here how Caesar fixed the calendar and how Romans divined the future from animal entrails). Fast-paced action, a deeply realized main character, and accessible history make this series first-rate on all fronts. --Connie Fletcher