The Roman civil war has come to its conclusion - Pompey is dead, Egypt is firmly under the control of Cleopatra (with the help of Rome's legions), and for the first time in many years Julius Caesar has returned to Rome itself. Appointed by the Senate as Dictator, the city abounds with rumors asserting that Caesar wishes to be made King - the first such that Rome has had in centuries. And that not all of his opposition has been crushed.
Gordianus, recently returned from Egypt with his wife Bethesda, is essentially retired from his previous profession of 'Finder' but even he cannot refuse the call of Calpurnia, Caesar's wife. Troubled by dreams foretelling disaster and fearing a conspiracy against the life of Caesar, she had hired someone to investigate the rumors. But that person, a close friend of Gordianus, has just turned up dead - murdered -- on her doorstep. With four successive Triumphs for Caesar's military victories scheduled for the coming days, and Caesar more exposed to danger than ever before, Calpurnia wants Gordianus to uncover the truth behind the rumored conspiracies -- to protect Caesar's life, before it is too late. No fan of Caesar's, Gordianus agrees to help - but only to find the murderer who killed his friend. But once an investigation is begun, there's no controlling what it will turn up, who it will put in danger, and where it will end.
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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May 12, 2008
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