- Series: The Medicus Series
- Hardcover: 352 pages
- Publisher: Bloomsbury USA (August 5, 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1608197085
- ISBN-13: 978-1608197088
- Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.3 x 9.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 92 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #932,947 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Tabula Rasa: A Crime Novel of the Roman Empire (The Medicus Series) Hardcover – August 5, 2014
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The sixth Gaius Petreius Ruso novel finds the second-century-CE Roman medic and amateur sleuth working at the site of the great wall being built in Britannia under the auspices of the emperor Hadrian. Tensions between the native Britons and the Roman legions are running hot, with bigotry starting to trend toward violence. When a local boy says he knows of a body buried inside the wall, apparently put there while the person was still alive, speculation of murder and cover-up escalate. Also, Ruso’s clerk has gone missing—not unusual in itself, given the fellow’s lackadaisical work ethic—but a second disappearance, this one involving a local family with whom Tilla, Ruso’s native-born wife, has become friendly, makes Ruso wonder if something nefarious is going on. Written in simple, unadorned prose (no awkward attempts to ape period style), the book is a pleasure to read. The Ruso series might not be as well known as, say, Lindsey Davis’ longer-running Marcus Didius Falsco series, but it’s just as entertaining. --David Pitt
“Attention to day-in-the-life period details, judiciously doled-out twists, and dry British humor . . . One hell of a toga party.” ―Entertainment Weekly
“Wonderfully entertaining.” ―Newsweek
“Places Downie alongside such established masters of the Roman historical as Steven Saylor and Rosemary Rowe.” ―Publishers Weekly, starred review
“Shipwrecks, ex-wives, gruesome gladiatorial games, unruly children, family discord, and, of course, mayhem and murder. Highly recommended.” ―Library Journal, starred review
“Ruso rocks. Let's hear it for those Romans.” ―Kirkus Reviews, starred review
“A pleasure to read. The Ruso series might not be as well known as, say, Lindsey Davis' longer-running Marcus Didius Falsco series, but it's just as entertaining.” ―Booklist
“Ruth Downie ranks among the very best of today's generation of Roman writers; by far and away the most obvious inheritor of Rosemary Sutcliff's honoured mantle. Ruso is a complex, engaging, utterly human medic, straddling the line between occupiers and occupied in the divided lands of Britannia with panache and good-humoured compassion. With a finely wrought plot, a densely woven cast of characters and plenty of action, this is a book to savor to the last sentence.” ―M.C. Scott, author of the Rome and Boudica series
“It makes book reviewing easy when you realize you are reading for pleasure! A superb evocation of the harsh life of Romans and rebels in the bandit-country of England while building Hadrian's Wall. Ruth Downie shows why she's considered the best of the Roman mystery writers. A crime writer to watch with a matchless style. Look out, Lindsey Davis!” ―Michael Jecks, author of the Knights Templar series
“Excellent--a well-constructed murder mystery that skillfully brings Roman Britain to life. You feel that you are there in the cramped hospitals of the Roman forts or out in the bleak northern countryside watching the flickering flames of the Samain festival. The story is told with Ruth Downie's usual quirky humor and a nod towards the present day health services--the sly references to targets and quotas are very much part of the fun of the book. This is story-telling of a high order--an immensely enjoyable read.” ―L.C. Tyler, author of The Herring-Seller's Apprentice
“Downie writes with quiet authority and surprising depth, offering an engaging depiction of an obscure slice of history.” ―Kirkus Reviews
“Immediately transports the reader to another time and place.” ―Publishers Weekly
“Downie's attention to detail--both historical detail and human detail--makes this series a joy to read for the mystery lover, the classics fan, or anyone seeking more character-driven genre fiction.” ―The Historical Novel Society
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Top customer reviews
This episode of the well-written historic mystery series has thoughtful storyline, fine characters and the usual detailed explanation of how people of the period lived and interacted socially and politically. Everything about the context feels authentic, and the action line that takes place within is intelligent and satisfying. For readers following the series, there will be some interesting developments for the principal characters that will definitely carry over to the next book. Look forward to it.
This might be my most favorite of the Gaius Petreius Ruso series so far. I love the personality quirks Ruth Downie endows to each character and her irony is in full form as she extends her story line to delve deeper into the spiritual and cultural beliefs of native tribes of northern Britannia AD.122.
12/01/15 I recently re-read this and realized I should’ve mentioned one of my favorite scenes is when Russo is trying to recite the Aeneid from memory and gets help from Valens and Albanus. Really funny!