Novels in English

Last updated XI JANUARIUS 2018

English-language Biblical Re-tellings and Novels for Younger Readers are elsewhere. Please see the complete directory above.

Directory of Authors:

Albert A. Bell Jr. · Philip Boast · Ron Burns · Jay Cardam · Robert Colton · Charles Connell · Lindsey Davis · Paul Doherty · Alex Domokos and Rita Toews · Ruth Downie · Charles Edward Gray · Jane Finnis · Barbara Hambly · Robert Harris · Wallace Irwin · Stephen J. Kears · Michael Levey · Bruce Macbain · Martha Marks · Ray Faraday Nelson · Albert Noyer · Joan O'Hagan · Ben Pastor · Mike Ripley · John Maddox Roberts · Rosemary Rowe · Steven Saylor · Alan Scribner · Kelli Stanley · A.C. Tassie · Marilyn Todd · David Wishart

Albert A. Bell Jr.
All Roads Lead to Murder
(UK: High Country, 2002 hardcover; USA: hardcover; USA: paperback).
On an AD 83 caravan trip back to Roma, Pliny the Younger and the historian Tacitus find themselves up to their elbows in gore in Smyrna. Also appearing are Plutarch and a couple of characters named Luke and Timothy right off the pages of the New Testament. The story takes a look both at nascent Christianity and the worship of Artemis. At 246 pages a bit long for the story it has to tell with some passages going too deep into detail. Includes glossary and author's note. If a movie, would probably be restricted viewing because of slave torture and nudity. A complimentary copy was provided to this site. [★★★+]
The Blood of Caesar
(London: Claystone Books, 2008 trade paperback;
USA: Ingalls Publishing Group, 2008, paperback).

Pliny the Younger and Tacitus look for descendants of Julius Caesar, construably the rightful rulers, at the behest of a paranoid Domitian. Also appearing are Martial, Agricola, Josephus, Rubellius Plautus and Gaius Musonius Rufus. In addition to Josephus there are also other interesting Jewish characters. Too often the text devolves into minutiae and thus ends up requiring a long 252 pages to complete. Some of the motivations and events seem hard to swallow as well. Worst of all it's difficult to accept the hero as a good human knowing he is actively enslaving so many of his fellow humans. But it's great fun having writers such as Tacitus, Martial and Pliny himself come alive and with quite accurate feeling attitudes. There are many surprising twists and turns, at times even veering into screwball romantic comedy. One feels that the research is always meticulous as well. A glossary of terms and nice illustrations taken from the 1901 edition of Ben-Hur complement the work nicely. Read chapter 1 here. About the next Pliny novel A complimentary copy was provided to this site. [★★★+]
Death in the Ashes
(USA: Perseverance Press, 2013, paperback).
In AD 84 Pliny the Younger and Tacitus journey to the Bay of Naples just five years after the fateful eruption of Vesuvius. There they seek to help a friend's husband who stands accused of murder. This follows closely on the heels of The Blood of Caesar and could be considered the second part of that case yet strains not to divulge the outcomes and events of that book. Perhaps this stems from the change in publisher. This reader would have preferred making the links stronger because the tendency over time to forget what happened in the earlier volume makes reminders welcome. This one keeps the action moving more than in the past, but is at times wordy. A few situations seem implausible, including a child left alone outdoors overnight, an improbable method of underground attack and a surprising absence of comparing notes by friends separated during an earthquake. Nice to finally see in a Roman mystery novel, characters playing the board game Latrunculus. Best of all, the author creates in Gaius Plinius a warm, engaging character, someone one would like to know and hang out with in real life. A complimentary copy was provided to this site. [★★★+] [USA]
The Eyes of Aurora
(USA: Perseverance Press, 2014, paperback).
In AD 84 Pliny the Younger and Tacitus try to help find a missing husband, while Pliny's mother arranges a marriage for him not to his preference. His nemesis Regulus and the feared emperor Domitian appear. Here the familiar cast of characters makes a pleasant return. A new wrinkle in the form of occasional interspersed thoughts from the slave Aurora breaks the single perspective rule, but generally works out well and is far preferable to no insights into her emotional life, which, being a slave, would be difficult, yet vital, as this is undoubtedly a love story. It's as if Pliny had written the main manuscript and Aurora came along later to add glosses to the margin. As with earlier works, the chief obstacle to the fullest level of enjoyment remains too many words and too much business, which has the effect of de-focusing the reader from the main themes and storylines. Examples abound; to pick just one, there is a point where Pliny discusses how he will send a particular character out to a province and then immediately after he has the conversation with this character in which he says all the same things. One or the other would have sufficed; we don't need both. Sometimes anachronisms seem to creep in as well. Most seem to feel the head of household was supreme in the Roman home, but time after time we find such characters being ruled by their mothers, being refused divorces, etc. At least more explanation might have been warranted? There's talk of investment also, but did Romans really have a stock market, or such financial concepts? Still it's an entertaining read – this time with far more sexual situations than previously – with an unpredictable plot and plenty of action. A complimentary copy was provided to this site. [★★★+] [USA]

Philip Boast
Son of Heaven (Septimus Severus Quistus)
(UK: Severn House, 2007, hardcover).
In AD 64 Nero has another travel assignment for Septimus, helping Liu Zhang to return from Rome to take his place as emperor of China. Negotiating the Huns is one of the problems. [not yet rated] [UK] [USA]
Third Princess, The (Septimus Severus Quistus)
(UK: Severn House, 2006, hardcover).
Forced by Nero to guard a Christian princess traveling to Britain, Septimus Severus Quistus becomes entangled in intrigue and deceit that threatens the empire. [not yet rated] [UK] [USA]

Ron Burns
Roman Nights
(New York: St. Martin's Press, 1991, hardcover).
Marcus Aurelius, Emperor of Rome, is away in Germany, fighting barbarians. Meanwhile, someone is killing the Stoic philosophers one by one. Senator's son Livinius Severus sets out to discover why. [★] [ORDER]
Roman Shadows
(New York: St. Martin's Press, 1992, hardcover).
Junior Roman Senator Gaius Livinius Severus finds himself engulfed in danger and intrigue in the turbulent days following the assassination of Julius Caesar. [★+] [ORDER]

Jay Cardam
Numerius Meridius Pulcher and the Case of the Not So Virgin Vestal
(CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2014, paperback; Kindle).
In AD 62 the Meridius of the title gets a message to meet an old friend at the House of the Vestals. The challenge is to find the missing newborn of a murdered Vestal. [not yet rated]

Robert Colton
1. Pompeii: A Tale of Murder in Ancient Rome
(CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2012, paperback; Kindle).
In 62 AD Marcellus Gracchus, a young man feeling the wrath of Nero, flees to Pompeii with his much older personal slave to question witnesses to the apparently accidental death of his father. They witness first a funeral and then the murder of a mysterious woman. Taking care of her baby at a brothel, he finds himself trying to discover her secrets while avoiding his pursuers by switching places with his slave. [not yet rated]
(cover not yet available)
2. Pompeii: A Conspiracy Among Friends
(CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2013,
paperback; Kindle).
In 62 AD, following a deadly earthquake, Marcellus stumbles across a body which leads to a new mystery as a woman thought to have been killed in the disaster is reported to have survived it. [not yet rated]
            (cover not yet available)
3. Pompeii: Hazard at Bay
(CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform,
paperback; Kindle).
Pompeii is busy trying to rebuild after an earthquake Marcellus and Tay must take measures to avoid being exposed by two desperate travelers. [not yet rated]
            (cover not yet available)
4. Pompeii: Pluto's Maze
(CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, forthcoming, paperback;
Tay and Marcellus find a member of their household dead and their money gone. Who is responsible? [not yet rated]

Charles Connell

Lindsey Davis

1. Silver Pigs
(London: Sidgwick & Jackson, 1989, hardcover; London: Pan Books, paperback; New York: Crown Books, 1989, hardcover; New York: Ballantine, 1989, paperback; London: Arrow, 2000, paperback; London: Century, 2000, hardcover).
Set in the First century AD empire of Vespasian. Private informer Marcus Didius Falco investigates imperial conspiracies in Rome and Britain on behalf of the Emperor, Titus and Domitian. First in the series. [★★★] [ORDER USA] [AMAZON UK]
cover not available
2. Shadows in Bronze
(London: Sidgwick & Jackson, 1990, hardcover; London: Pan Books, 1991, paperback; New York: Crown Books, 1990, hardcover; New York: Ballantine, 1990, paperback; London: Arrow, 2000, paperback; London: Century, 2000, hardcover).
Falco is on the case for Vespasian once again, this time tracking all over south Italy in search of leftover conspirators. Second in the series. [★★] [ORDER USA] [AMAZON UK]
Falco on His Metal: Lindsey Davis Omnibus
(London: Arrow (Random House), 1999, hardcover; paperback). Omnibus edition containing the third, fourth and fifth novels: Venus in Copper, The Iron Hand of Mars and Poseidon's Gold [AMAZON UK]
3. Venus in Copper
(London: L. Hutchinson, 1991, hardcover; London: Arrow (Random House), 1991, paperback; New York: Crown Books, 1991; New York: Ballantine, 1991, mass market paperback; New York: Crown, 1992, paperback).
Falco has given up imperial work to concentrate on the intrigues of the nouveaux riches. Titus appears however. Third in the series. [★★★] [AMAZON UK]
4. The Iron Hand of Mars
(London: L. Hutchinson, 1992, hardcover; London: Arrow (Random House), 1992, paperback; New York: Crown Books, 1992, hardcover; New York: Ballantine, 1992, paperback).
Vespasian has a job for Falco... in barbarian Germany. Falco doesn't want to go. When he gets there, his mission to track down a renegade, find a prophetess and discover the whereabouts of a missing legate is interrupted by ... murder. Fourth in the series. [★★★] [ORDER USA] [AMAZON UK]
5. Poseidon's Gold
(London: Century, Random House UK Limited, 1993, hardcover, paperboards; London: Arrow (Random House), 1994, paperback; New York: Crown Publishers, 1994, hardcover; New York: Ballantine paperback, 1994).
Falco gets arrested for murder with Helena Justina as his accomplice. Her family is not amused. Is Falco destined for the lions? Fifth in the series. [★★+] [ORDER USA] [AMAZON UK]
Falco on the Loose: Lindsey Davis Omnibus
(London: Arrow (Random House), 2003, hardcover; paperback). Omnibus edition containing the sixth, seventh and eight novels: Last Act in Palmyra Time to Depart and A Dying Light in Corduba.
6. Last Act in Palmyra
(London: Century, Random House UK Limited, 1994, hardcover, paperboards; London: Arrow (Random House), 1995, paperback; New York: Mysterious Press, 1996, hardcover; Ballantine, 1997, paperback).
Falco has got himself a secret commission from Anacrites to scout the Eastern Empire. Meanwhile, an employee is missing and Thalia the Snake-Dancer wants her found. So why are Falco and Helena joining a theater troupe? Sixth in the series. [★★★★] [excerpt] [ORDER USA] [AMAZON UK]
Note: The Hidden City of Petra is a documentary video which provides a nice adjunct to readers of this novel, which has important scenes set there. It is interesting to think too of Falco and Helena treading over the same areas that Hercule Poirot walked on (will walk on?) in Agatha Christie's Appointment With Death.
7. Time to Depart
(London: Century, Random House UK Limited, 1995, hardcover, paperboards; London: Arrow (Random House), 1996, paperback; New York: Mysterious Press, 1997, hardcover; New York: Warner Books, 1998, paperback).
Back home, Marcus Didius assists his friend Petronius in sending one of Rome's top criminals into exile. When a new rash of crimes breaks out, both Falco and Petronius are called before the emperor. The case leads Falco deep into Rome's sinister underworld. Vespasian and Titus appear. Seventh in the series. [★★+] [ORDER USA] [AMAZON UK]
8. A Dying Light in Corduba
(London: Century, Random House UK Limited, 1996, leather bound, hardcover; London: Arrow (Random House), 1997, paperback; New York: Mysterious Press, 1998, hardcover; New York: G K Hall & Co, 1998, hardcover large print; New York: Warner Books, 1999, paperback).
When the nightcap to a mysterious dinner party of the Baetican Olive Oil Producers Society proves to be murder, Falco is off to to distant Hispania, tracking culprits and conspiracies; naturally his girlfriend accompanies. The olive business is the research bit in this one. Eighth in the series. [★★★] [ORDER USA] [AMAZON UK]
9. Three Hands in the Fountain
(London: Century, Random House UK Limited, 1997, hardcover; London: Arrow (Random House), 1998, paperback; New York: Mysterious Press, 1999, hardcover; New York: Warner Books, 1999, paperback).
When a severed hand turns up in a fountain one day, Falco and Petronius end up in an adventure they never expected. The former's family matters and the latter's marital problems are the B plots in this one while Rome's aqueduct system is the special focus. Ninth in the series. [★+] [ORDER USA] [AMAZON UK]
10. Two for the Lions
(London: Century, Random House UK Limited, 1998, hardcover; London: Arrow (Random House), 1999, paperback; New York: Mysterious Press, 1999, hardcover; New York: Warner Books, 2000, paperback).
Working with Anacrites and the censors, Falco becomes interested in the death of a gladiatorial lion and the subsequent crimes and coverups surrounding it. Missing relatives and a trip to Africa also participate. Vespasian and his mistress Caenis appear. Miscalling the Parthenon the "Pantheon", dubious character motivations and throwaway descriptions of every port in North Africa beg the question whether Davis, like Colleen McCullough, needs a holiday from Rome. Tenth in the series. [★+] [ORDER USA] [AMAZON UK]
11. One Virgin Too Many
(London: Century, Random House UK Limited, 1999, hardcover; London: Century, Random House UK Limited, 1999, trade paperback; London: Arrow (Random House), 2000, paperback; New York: Mysterious Press, 2000, hardcover; New York: Warner Books, 2001, paperback).
Falco returns to Rome where he finds Imperial favor and a new position as Procurator of the Sacred Poultry of the Senate and People of Rome. Sent to investigate the disappearance of a future Vestal Virgin, he is also troubled by the appearance of a corpse in the Sacred Grove of the Arval Brothers. Rome's more obscure religious customs form the B topic in this one – obviously some topics work better than others. Eleventh in the series. [★] [AMAZON UK]
12. Ode to a Banker
(London: Century, Random House UK Limited, 2000, hardcover; London: Arrow (Random House), 2001, paperback; New York: Mysterious Press, 2001, hardcover; New York: Mysterious Press, 2002, paperback).
The in-depth topics this time are poetry and banking as Falco investigates the death of an Athenian banker and patron of poets. Twelfth in the series. [not yet rated] [AMAZON UK]
13. A Body in the Bathhouse
(London: Century, Random House UK Limited, 2001, hardcover; London: Century, Random House UK Limited, 2001, trade paperback; London: Arrow, 2002, paperback; New York: Warner, 2002, hardcover; New York: Warner, 2002, paperback.)
Falco makes his return to Britain as the emperor demands to know why King Togidubnus of the Atrebates is running up such huge bills. Thirteenth in the series. [not yet rated] [ORDER UK] [ORDER USA]
14. The Jupiter Myth
(London: Century, Random House UK Limited, 2002, hardcover; paperback; New York: Warner, 2002, hardcover; New York: Warner, 2003, paperback).
The characters continue in Britain, supposedly on holiday. Fourteenth in the series. [not yet rated]
15. The Accusers
(London: Century, 2004, hardcover; paperback; New York: Mysterious Press, 2004, hardcover; New York: Warner, 2004, paperback).
The topic this time is Roman law as Falco appears in court as an advocate. Fifteenth in the series. [not yet rated]
16. Scandal Takes a Holiday
(London: Century, 2004, hardcover; paperback; paperback; New York: Mysterious Press, 2004, hardcover; New York: Warner, 2005, paperback).
Falco searches for a missing journalist in at Ostia. Are pirates involved? Sixteenth in the series. [not yet rated]
17. See Delphi and Die
(London: Century, 2005, hardcover; London: Century, 2005, paperback; London: Century, 2006, mass market paperback).
With Roman tourism and Olympic sport as the B plots, Falco, Helena and Nux step into a murder investigation on a tour to Olympia, Corinth, Athens and Delphi. The reader steps into the usual problems of point of view, ambiguous protagonist narrator and tedious minutiae. If the one-off characters and events are going to be this flat, Falco is better off staying at home interacting with those we have come to know. Seventeenth in the series. [★+]
18. Saturnalia
(London: Century, 2007, hardcover; London: Century, 2007, paperback; New York: Century, 2007, hardcover; New York: Arrow, 2008, mass market paperback; New York: Arrow, 2008, paperback).
Falco and an old nemesis, Chief Spy Anacrites, race to find a escaped foreign potentate amid Rome's Saturnalia festivities. Eighteenth in the series. [not yet rated]
19. Alexandria
(London: Century, 2009, hardcover; New York: Century, 2009, hardcover).
A mysterious death complicates Falco's inventory mission at the library in Alexandria. Academic life appears to be the B plot in this one. Nineteenth in the series. [not yet rated]
20. Nemesis
(London: Century, 2010, hardcover; New York: Century, 2010, hardcover).
In Rome of 77 AD a middle-aged couple have gone missing while a mutilated corpse has appeared. Falco and Petronius' investigations are hampered by Anacrites as more and more bodies turn up. Twentieth in the series. [not yet rated]

Lindsey Davis' next novel is set during the English Civil War.

cover 21. Master and God
(London: Hodder & Stoughton, 2012, hardcover; New York: St. Martin's Press, 2012, hardcover).
During the reign of Emperor Vespasian's second son, Domitian, Praetorian Guard Gaius Vinius and fashion maven Flavia Lucilla, brought together by a disastrous fire, face dilemmas around the conspiracy to kill the unpopular ruler. [not yet rated]
cover 22. Ides of April
(London: Hodder & Stoughton, 2013, hardcover; New York: Minotaur, 2013, hardcover).
With this book Falco's adopted British-born daughter, Flavia Albia, takes over the detecting. In Domitian's Rome, she investigates seemingly random deaths, with the help of the police force. The festival of Ceres provides the moment where all can be resolved. Said to be more bloody-minded than previous volumes. First in the series. [not yet rated]
cover 23. Enemies at Home
(London: Hodder & Stoughton, 2014, hardcover; New York: Minotaur, 2014, hardcover).
The second in the Flavia Albia series finds her investigating a couple found dead in their own bedroom. Under suspicion, the slaves flee to the Temple of Ceres. Second in the series. [not yet rated]
cover 23. Deadly Election
(London: Hodder & Stoughton, 2015, hardcover; New York: Minotaur, 2015, hardcover).
Flavia Albia returns to Rome only to learn of a corpse found in a chest whose contents were to be sold at the Falco auction house. While investigating, she becomes involved with a young man, Faustus, who is looking for help with a political campaign. Third in the series. [not yet rated]

Paul Doherty
(Headline, 2002, hardcover;
Headline, 2005, paperback.)
The story of Agrippina the Younger, wife of Claudius and mother of Nero, as told by her freedman. [not yet rated]
Murder Imperial
(Headline, 2003,
hardcover; Headline, 2003, paperback.)
Set in the Rome of Diocletian and the rise of Constantine. Helena, Constantine's mother, and her spy, Claudia, play prominent roles. First in the series. [not yet rated]
The Queen of the Night
(Headline, 2006,
hardcover; Headline, 2006, paperback.)
Secret agent Claudia investigates the deaths of army veterans as well as child abductions. Third in the series. [not yet rated]
The Song of the Gladiator
(Headline, 2004,
hardcover; Headline, 2004, paperback; Headline, 2005, paperback.)
Gladiators, Helena (mother of Emperor Constantine) and a spy, Claudia, are featured in this one. Claudia is involved with a gladiator who is under pressure from a betting syndicate. Second in the series. [not yet rated]
Murder's Immortal Mask
(USA, 2008,
hardcover; paperback; UK, 2008, hardcover; paperback.)
In 314 AD two prostitutes have been found murdered in the capital Constantinople. The emperor's mother Helena asks Claudia to investigate and also to find out more about a notorious killer. Third in the series. [not yet rated]

Alex Domokos and Rita Toews
The Centurion
(eBook, 2006).
During the reign of Tiberius, Marco, former master of grain shipments at Ostia, travels to Judea with the military, volunteers to guard the tomb of a man known as the Teacher and eventually stands trial for aiding religious fanatics. [not yet rated]

Ruth Downie
1. Medicus
(Bloomsbury USA, 2007
hardcover; paperback; audio CD; audio download).
The detective is Gaius Petrius Ruso, a military physician – the medicus of the title – stationed in what is now Chester. (Reminds that "chester" comes from Latin castra meaning stronghold, so all of Chester, Winchester, Chichester, etc. must have been strongholds at one point.) He becomes a detective when a series of prostitutes are found dead. Set during the reign of Hadrian. Apparently also published by Penguin under the title Ruso and the Disappearing Dancing Girls. First in the series. [not yet rated] [ORDER USA] [AMAZON UK]
2. Terra Incognita
(Bloomsbury USA, 2008
hardcover; paperback; unabridged audio CD; large print hardcover; MP3).
In AD 118 Ruso takes an assignment in the north of Britain where rebellion is brewing. Meanwhile, a soldier is found murdered in grisly fashion. Apparently also published by Penguin under the title Ruso and the Demented Doctor. Second in the series. [not yet rated] [ORDER USA] [AMAZON UK]
3. Persona Non Grata
(UK, 2009,
hardcover; unabridged audio CD; USA, 2009 hardcover; unabridged audio CD.)
Ruso has just returned home to southern Gaul when difficult situations arise – a missing ship, debts and a murder in his own home. Nice to see that publishers on opposite sides of the pond can finally agree on a title and cover art. Third in the series. [not yet rated]
4. Caveat Emptor
(UK, 2010,
hardcover; UK, 2011, paperback; USA, 2010, hardcover; USA, 2011, paperback.)
Ruso is back in Britannia to hunt down a missing tax farmer. There are also questions of missing money, theft, forgery, buried treasure and the a tie to Boudicca. Fourth in the series. Published in the UK as Ruso and the River of Darkness. [not yet rated]
        cover 5. Semper Fidelis
(UK: Bloomsbury, 2013,
hardcover; paperback; Kindle; USA: Bloomsbury, 2013, hardcover; paperback; Kindle).
As mysterious deaths and injuries mount among the troops of the XXth legion in advance of a visit from Emperor Hadrian, Ruso asks questions no one wants to answer. His barbarian wife involves herself as well. Finally we get the same title and cover in both countries. We knew they could do it, didn't we. Fifth in the series. [not yet rated]
        cover 6. Tabula Rasa
(UK: Bloomsbury, 2014,
hardcover; Kindle; USA: Bloomsbury, 2013, hardcover; Kindle).
Ruso and Tilla are helping to tend the builders of Hadrian's Wall, a clerk goes missing and the native Britons are suspected. Another disappearance only thickens the plot. Sixth in the series. [not yet rated]
        cover 7. Vita Brevis
(UK: Bloomsbury, 2016,
hardcover; paperback; USA: Bloomsbury, 2017, hardcover; paperback; Kindle).
Ruso, Tilla and baby leave for Rome, only to discover a world of corrupt landlords and miserable apartments. A dead body on a doorstep, a vanished doctor, the difficulties of setting up a medical practice and an attempt to help a friend marry a wealthy heiress complicate Ruso's life. Sevenh in the series. [not yet rated]
        cover 8. Memento Mori
( USA: Bloomsbury, forthcoming March 2018,
hardcover; Kindle).
Ruso and Tilla investigate the death of Ruso's friend's wife in Aquae Sulis, the sacred hot spring in modern Bath. Eighth in the series. [not yet rated]

Charles Edward Gray

Jane Finnis
cover 1. Get Out or Die
(New York: Poisoned Pen, 2003, hardcover; London: Poisoned Pen, 2003, hardcover; New York: Poisoned Pen, 2005, large text; London: Poisoned Pen, 2005, paperback).
Re-printed as Shadows in the Night
(New York: Poisoned Pen, 2011, paperback). In the Britain of the reign of the Emperor Domitian, the natives are still restless. An Italian import innkeeper, Aurelia Marcella, takes it upon herself to investigate the murders and uncover the rebels. First in the series. 348 pages. [not yet rated]
2. A Bitter Chill
(London: Poisoned Pen, 2005, large print paperback; New York: Poisoned Pen, 2005, hardcover).
Saturnalia of AD 95 sees a tragic death and Aurelia's sister is accused. Partly set in ancient York. Second in the series. [not yet rated]
3. Buried Too Deep
(London: Poisoned Pen, 2008, hardcover; large print paperback; New York: Poisoned Pen, 2008, large print paperback; paperback; audio CD; audio cassette).
In AD 98 the appearance of a farmer wounded by swordplay sends Aurelia and her brother to inspect a shipwreck and an encounter with sea raiders. Third in the series. [not yet rated]
4. Danger in the Wind
(Poisoned Pen, 2011, UK, hardcover; paperback; Kindle; USA, hardcover; paperback; Kindle;
In AD 100 at a fort near York Aurelia investigates the murder of a soldier carrying a cryptic message. A tax collector and unhappy Britons seem to be part of a mosaic that also includes politics. Fourth in the series. [not yet rated]

Barbara Hambly
cover not available
The Quirinal Hill Affair
(New York: Ballantine, 1983,
hardcover; as Search the Seven Hills, New York: Ballantine, 1987, hardcover).
It is A.D. 116. The Roman Streets are quiet. The moon is full. The perfect setting for the perfect crime... A young philosopher seeks a kidnapped woman in the areas of Ancient Rome's Quirinal Hill. Are some of Rome's early Christians behind it? (Reminiscent of The Roman Moon Mystery.) [★★★] [ORDER]

Robert Harris
(New York: Random House, 2003,
hardcover; New York: Random House, 2005, paperback).
Days before the famous eruption, Marcus Attilius Primus, the new aquarius (aqueduct engineer) from Rome is summoned by Corelia, beautiful daughter of the rich Ampliatus, to investigate a fish kill at their villa. When the aqueduct gives out he travels to Pompeii to fix it, along the way looking into the mysterious disappearance of his predecessor. Pliny the Elder and Pliny the Younger appear. The mystery and detection are certainly there, but not particularly strongly. Instead there are inspired prose and interesting characters, though Corelia's story may need a grain or two of salt. [excerpt] [★★★+]

Wallace Irwin
cover Julius Caesar Murder Case, The
(New York, London: D. Appleton-Century Company, Inc., 1935).
Publius Manlius Scribo, star reporter for the Evening Tiber, finds that his assignment to report on an everyday homicide draws him deep into conspiracies swirling around Rome's Great Men, who seem to sound and act just like 1930's-style gangsters. We thought Shakespeare laid on the straight dope about what really went down on the Ides of March, but like Josephine Tey, Irwin has his own version. Julius Caesar, Cleopatra, Marcus Antonius, Pompeia, Brutus and Cassius appear. Irwin's prescient dedication against Mussolini and Hitler must be the only one of its kind. [★★★+] [ORDER USA]

Stephen J. Kears
cover Twelve Miles From Rome
(Amazon Digital Services, 2015, Kindle).
In 71 AD Lucius Marius Nola, retired veteran, inherits a farm outside Rome and tries to escape his violent, troubled past. But a strange turn of events draws him into murder and intrigue. First in the series. [not yet rated]

Michael Levey
cover An Affair on the Appian Way
(London: Hamish Hamilton, 1984).
Julia, chief of the Vestal Virgins, finds herself drawn into the case of a young patrician woman who is found strangled. Empress Pompeia Plotina appears. [★★] [ORDER USA] [ORDER UK]

Ben Pastor
cover 1. The Water Thief
(USA: St. Martin's Minotaur, 2007, hardcover).
In AD 304 Diocletian assigns Aelius Spartianus to investigate the mysterious death two centuries before of Hadrian's lover Antinous. Although little is known of him, in real life Aelius Spartianus is listed as one of the compilers of the Historia Augusta, if one believes, that is, that they actually were the authors. This appears to be the first mystery novel or short story ever set in the reign of Diocletian, which, like that of many late emperors, has been little visited thus far. First in the series. [not yet rated]
cover 2. The Fire Waker
(USA: St. Martin's Minotaur, 2007, hardcover).
Diocletian has split the empire into four parts, but corruption and individual power grabs are still the order of the day. Amid this, Diocletians's official historian, Aelius Spartianus is sent to Trevorum (ancient Trier) with a sensitive message for Constantius. A Christian miracle worker has an important role to play. Second in the series. [not yet rated]

Bruce Macbain
1. Roman Games: A Plinius Secundus Mystery
(USA: Poisoned Pen Press, 2010, hardcover; audio cassette; paperback).
During the Ludi Romani of 96 AD a notorious senator is found stabbed to death. Domitian commands Pliny the Younger to investigate. With assistance from the poet Martial, he tries to save the senator's slaves by uncovering the plot, which turns out to include Jews, Christians, cultists and a dire horoscope. Nerva, Petronius and Statius also appear. This Pliny is an older, more dour version of the young man in the series by Albert A. Bell. The author is a professional classicist, which shows in the writing. Everything feels quite accurate; there is also some tendency to have things in just for the sake of education – an entire chapter on the opening of the Roman games, for example, really does nothing to advance the plot. The 261 pages include an appendix, historical note, glossary and even questions for discussion, particularly around the theme of "what is an honest man (Pliny) to do when faced with a corrupt regime?". Although rather long, this third person omniscient form works for the most part, even if sometimes the writing is more functional than inspired. Here Pliny is not exactly a great detective, but makes many mistakes and in some sense is more along for the ride than really solving a case, though in the end it is explained, however improbable that explanation may be. [★★★]
(cover not yet available)
2. The Bull Slayer: A Plinius Secundus Mystery
(USA: Poisoned Pen Press, 2013,
hardcover; paperback; Kindle; MP3 audiobook; Audible audio).
Pliny becomes governor of Bithynia-Pontus (in Asia Minor) in a time of turbulence. When a Roman official is found dead on a desolate hillside, he must deal with corruption and cults amid the possible breakup of his marriage to a beautiful wife. [not yet rated]

Martha Marks
Rubies of the Viper
(USA: Martha's Art, 2010, paperback; Kindle).
In the Rome of Claudius and Nero, Theodosia Varro inherits the family estate and a great deal of wealth, but now to ensure her safety must identify her brother's killer. Nero, Vespasian, Titus, Otho and Poppaea Sabina appear. First in the series. [excerpt] [not yet rated]
The Viper Amulet
(USA: Martha's Art, forthcoming paperback).
Second in the series. [not yet rated]

Ray Faraday Nelson
Dogheaded Death
(San Francisco: Strawberry Hill Press, 1989, paperback).
When a wealthy Egyptian is murdered in his home, Emperor Nero dispatches one of his palace centurions to Alexandria to investigate. Appearance by Mark the Evangelist. [★★+] [ORDER]

Albert Noyer
1. The Secundus Papyrus
(USA: Toby, 2003, paperback). In Ravenna, AD 439, surgeon Getorius Asterius and his wife Arcadia examine the body of a drowned monk. They discover a religiously amazing document in the process. Then another murder transpires ... Emperor Valentinian III appears. First in the series.
[not yet rated]
2. The Cybelene Conspiracy
(USA: Toby, 2005, paperback).
In Ravenna of AD 440 Surgeon Getorius Asterius is summoned to investigate the death of a castrated youth. Arians, Vestal Virgins, the cult of Cybele, products from ancient China and his wife Arcadia all play roles. Second in the series. [not yet rated]
(cover not yet available)
3. Death at Pergamum
(USA: Toby, forthcoming, paperback).
The further adventures of Getorius Asterius and Arcadia. Third in the series. [not yet rated]
The Saint's Day Deaths
(USA: Creative Arts, 2000, paperback).
In AD 406, in a fictional Roman town which seems based on ancient Mainz, someone is murdered on the feast day of every martyr of the calendar, and in the same way. Treverius and Blandina, husband and wife cartographers investigate amid the clash of pagans, Christians and barbarians competing for political power. [not yet rated]

Joan O'Hagan
A Roman Death
(New York: Doubleday, 1988, hardcover).
Set during the dictatorship of Julius Caesar. The marriage alliance of the Fufidii and Scauri families is headed for trouble after one of the principals is found dead. When Fufidius' wife is accused of murder and incest, only Cicero can hope to win her case. An unusual multiple point-of-view mystery (perhaps influenced by The Roman Moon Mystery?) which sheds light on the life of women in ancient Rome. Cinna the Poet also appears. [★★+] [ORDER]

Mike Ripley
Boudica and the Lost Roman
(UK: Severn House, 2005, hardcover).
In Britain AD 60 Olussa is sent by Romans to assess taxes on the Iceni when their king dies, only to be replaced by Boudica, who as a woman scorned ends up mobilizing her entire tribe against the Romans. [not yet rated] [UK] [USA]

John Maddox Roberts
(New York: Avon, 1990, paperback; as The King's Gambit, New York: St. Martin's Minotaur, 2001, trade paperback).
Commissioner Decius Caecilius Metellus the Younger's investigation of the murder of a spy for Mithridates draws him into the dangerous world of international power politics during the consulships of Pompey and Crassus. Cicero and Julius Caesar appear. First in the series. [★★] [ORDER]
2. SPQR II, The Catiline Conspiracy
(New York: Avon, 1991, paperback; as The Catiline Conspiracy, New York: St. Martin's Minotaur, 2001, trade paperback).
Quaestor Decius Caecilius Metellus uncovers romance and intrigue while investigating a series of murders of wealthy merchants. Crassus and Cicero appear. Second in the series. [★★] [ORDER]
3. Sacrilege, The: An SPQR Mystery
(New York: Avon, 1992, paperback; New York: Minotaur, 1999, paperback).
Senator Decius Caecilius Metellus' investigation of Clodius' invasion of a matronly gathering almost gets him killed. Cicero, Caesar and Crassus appear. Third in the series. [★★+] [ORDER]
4. Temple of the Muses, The: An SPQR Mystery
(New York: Avon, 1992, paperback; New York: Minotaur, 1999, paperback).
Junior Senator Decius joins a Roman diplomatic mission to Alexandria to escape his enemies in the Eternal City. But the suspicious death of an irascible philosopher distracts the sleuth from his enjoyment of the exotic outpost's many pleasures. Fourth in the series. [★★] [ORDER]
5. SPQR V: Saturnalia
(New York: St. Martin's Minotaur, 1999, hardcover; New York: St. Martin's Minotaur, 2003, paperback).
Junior Senator Decius is recalled to Rome during the annual Saturnalia festivities to investigate the mysterious death of Metellus Celer. Decius must delve into the world of soothsayers and poisoners to discover whether his widow, the infamous Clodia, was involved. Cicero, Julius Caesar, Crassus, Clodius, Clodia, Milo, Julia, Fausta, Fulvia and other notables also appear in this longer, talkier outing. Apparently there will be no paperback version to match the previous paperback editions in the series. Fifth in the series. [★★] [excerpt] [ORDER]
6. SPQR VI: Nobody Loves a Centurion
(New York: St. Martin's Minotaur, 2001, hardcover; New York: St. Martin's Minotaur, 2003, paperback).
Out of favor with the powers that be, Decius joins Caesar's legionary camp at Lake Geneva at the outset of the Gallic war. After page 100 he investigates the murder of a centurion while being distracted by a dwarf and a ravishing German slave girl. If he doesn't find the killer, an 8-man squad will be executed. There is much to learn here about life in an army camp as well as about ancient Gallic and Germanic culture. Caesar, Labienus and another, surprise famous name appear. Sixth in the series. [★★★] [ORDER]
7. Tribune's Curse
(New York: St. Martin's Minotaur, 2003, hardcover; New York: St. Martin's Griffin, 2004, paperback).
Back in Rome, Decius is on his way up the cursus honorum, soon to stand for the post of aedile. Meanwhile Crassus is set to depart for the Parthians when a tribune bestows a terrible curse. When said tribune turns up dead, Pompey and Milo order Decius to investigate. This is a look into the ludicrousness of ancient religions as well as the feeling of daily life in the ancient capital, which are handled better than is the believability of the mystery investigation. Decius' new wife Julia plays a Mycroft or Myrna Loy role in helping with the investigation. Also appearing are Cicero, Cato and Clodius. Seventh in the series. [★★★]
8. SPQR VIII: The River God's Vengeance
(New York: St. Martin's Minotaur, 2004, hardcover; New York: St. Martin's Minotaur, 2005, paperback).
When over two hundred lives are lost in a building collapse, Aedile Decius investigates anomalies in some of the corpses. He also engages in stomach-testing visits to Rome's sewer (Cloaca Maxima) and death pits (puticuli), not to mention one to Rome's largest brothel. At 280 pages can feel a bit long at times, with the motives of both detective and villains occasionally hard to explain. Marcus Antonius, Marcius Porcius Cato, Metellus Scipio, Marcus Aemilius Scaurus and Marcus Valerius Messalla Niger appear. Eighth in the series. [★★★]
9. The Princess and the Pirates
(New York: St. Martin's Minotaur, 2005, hardcover; New York: St. Martin's Minotaur, 2006, paperback).
Rome and his family assign Decius to clear Cyprus of pirates. There he meets the princess, the young Cleopatra, but when the island's governor is murdered, it's Decius' duty to identify and punish the guilty. Features some nice night action at sea, for a change. Excursions are taken into the topics of Roman-era ships, Egyptian politics and the copper and frankincense trades. Decius' wife Julia, Aulus Gabinius, Titus Annius Milo and a Scythian named Ariston appear. Ninth in the series. [★★★] [ORDER]
cover currently unavailable
10. SPQR X: A Point of Law
(New York: St. Martin's Minotaur, 2006, hardcover; New York: St. Martin's Minotaur, 2007, paperback).
Decius stands for election as praetor. When someone charges him with corruption, the accuser gets murdered before he can appear in court. Decius becomes the main suspect and has trouble proving his innocence. Improbably, this one begins with a précis describing all of the characters and much of what they do, giving away plot points in the process. This looks more like a letter to a publisher than an item for inclusion in the book. You are not recommended to read it until you have finished the book itself. While there's a lot of great information on Roman politics and ways, something about the resolution feels forced and unconvincing. Marcus Porcius Cato, Sallust, Fulvia and Gaius Scribonius Curio appear. In addition, Decius' wife Julia once again has a prominent role. Tenth in the series. [★★★]
11. Under Vesuvius
(New York: St. Martin's Minotaur, 2007, hardcover).
Praetor Decius Caecilius' visit to the coast at Baiae is intended to be a luxurious holiday, but as usual he stumbles into some mysterious murders, including the daughter of a Greek priest and others. Assisted by his wife, Julia, and assistant, Hermes, Decius' faces a new challenge: how to reconcile investigating a case while also serving as judge over the very same case. Cicero, his brother and his secretary, Tiro, appear. Venue is similar to that of Steven Saylor's Arms of Nemesis. Eleventh in the series. [★★★]
12. Oracle of the Dead
(New York: St. Martin's Minotaur, 2008, hardcover).
In 49 BC Decius takes a pleasure trip to a combined temple of Apollo/oracle dedicated to Hecate at Stabiae near Naples (for other tales in the general area see Arms of Nemesis and Die Pforten des Hades), but comes upon some macabre surprises. The need to understand the origins of the underground oracle and the possible purposes for which it was dug mean that history and archaeology become integral to the plot. The oracle location appears to be a real place, by the way, although its history is controversial. See more at Meanwhile, Julius Caesar ponders his famous crossing of the Rubicon. Pompey (appearing rather less pompous than in other novels) and Cato appear. Twelfth in the series. [★★★]
13. The Year of Confusion
(New York: St. Martin's Minotaur, 2010, hardcover).
Confusion ensues when new dictator Julius Caesar re-synchronizes the Roman calendar to the seasons. Decius must investigate murder among Caesar's astronomers. The storyline jumps right over the civil and Alexandrine wars straight to the last months of the dictatorship, a period covered by many other novels as well. Julius Caesar, Marc Antony, Brutus, Cassius, Lepidus, Cleopatra, Servilia, Fulvia, Sallust and Cinna the Poet appear. At 275 pages longer than the usual entry in the series. Thirteenth in the series. [★★★]
John Maddox Roberts has aleo penned two excellent non-detective epic novels on Ancient Rome, speculating on what might have happened a hundred years after in a world in which Hannibal ended the Roman Republic: Hannibal's Children and The Seven Hills.

For a preview of likely upcoming novels by Mr. Roberts, click here to see what has already been published in German.

Rosemary Rowe
1. Germanicus Mosaic
(London: Headline, 1999, hardcover; London: Headline, 1999, paperback).
In AD 186, a freedman named Libertus is instructed to investigate the murder of a centurion found dead in a hypocaust in Glevum, Britannia (modern Gloucester). While the point of view of the former slave is well done, the level of research is perhaps too apparent, especially when the narrator is explaining what his hearers ought to already know. On the other hand, none of them seem the least bit surprised when he routinely goes about twentieth-century-style investigative activities. First in the series. [★★+] [AMAZON UK]
2. A Pattern of Blood
(London: Headline, 2000, hardcover; Headline, 2000, paperback).
Libertus investigates threats and political intrigue against leading figure Quintus Ulpius. Second in the series. [not yet rated] [AMAZON UK! paperback]
3. Murder in the Forum
(London: Headline, 2001, hardcover; London: Headline, 2001, paperback).
Libertus is enmeshed in politics and schemes as Perennis Felix, the emperor's favorite, chokes on a nut and dies at a feast in his honor. Is something more behind this? Third in the series. [not yet rated] [AMAZON UK]
4. The Chariots of Calyx
(London: Headline, 2002, hardcover; paperback).
Libertus in Londinium looking into the dearth of the corn officer. Are the chariot racing teams involved? Fourth in the series. [not yet rated] [AMAZON UK]
5. The Legatus Mystery
(London: Headline, 2003, hardcover; London: Headline, 2003, paperback; London: Headline, 2003, large text).
Libertus investigates the murder of a Roman ambassador, his efforts being rewarded by the anger of a mob. Fifth in the series. [not yet rated]
6. The Ghosts of Glevum
(London: Headline, 2004, hardcover; London: Headline, 2004, paperback).
When a guest is found dead in the vomitorium, Libertus finds at least two motivations for investigation: both he and his patron are accused of murder. The strange underworld characters of Glevum are the ghosts of the title. Sixth in the series. [not yet rated] [AMAZON UK]
7. Enemies of the Empire
(London: Headline, 2005, hardcover).
In AD 188 Libertus travels to the Celtic frontier at Isca (modern Exeter) on official business, but events at Venta lead him on a perilous path ... Seventh in the series. [not yet rated] [AMAZON UK]
8. A Roman Ransom
(London: Headline, 2006, hardcover; London: Headline, 2006, paperback).
AD 188 finds Libertus in Glevum, sick in bed. But he faces a tricky situation as his patron's wife and child have been kidnapped against the release of a political prisoner. Eighth in the series. (Title is rather too close to Henry Winterfeld's Mystery of the Roman Ransom.) [not yet rated]
9. A Coin for the Ferryman
(London: Headline, 2007, hardcover; London: Headline, 2007, paperback).
In AD 189 a mysterious corpse is found at the occasion of the manumission and engagement of Libertus' helper Junio. Ninth in the series. [not yet rated]
10. Death at Pompeia's Wedding
(London: Headline, 2008, hardcover).
A poisoning in which the bride is the suspect brings Libertus into a new case. Tenth in the series. [not yet rated]
11. Requiem for a Slave
(UK: Severn House, 2010, hardcover; paperback).
Libertus discovers a dead body and then is at pains to save the slave accused of committing the murder. Eleventh in the series. [not yet rated]
12. The Vestal Vanishes
(UK: Severn House, 2011, hardcover).
A retired vestal virgin is to be married, but on the very day of the wedding turns up missing. Libertus' investigations suggest that Druidic rebels may be involved. Twelfth in the series. [not yet rated]
13. A Whispering of Spies
(UK: Severn House, 2012, hardcover; paperback; US hardcover).
Libertus must save his own skin when he is accused of stealing a treasure cart. Thirteenth in the series. [not yet rated]
14. Dark Omens
(UK: Severn House, 2013, UK hardcover; US hardcover).
Fear and superstition rule the day as after Libertus has laid a new pavement, the commissioner goes missing in the middle of winter, which is followed by a botched official sacrifice, the death of the emperor and discovery of two mutilated corpses. Fourteenth in the series. [not yet rated]
15. Fateful Day
(US: Severn House, 2015, hardcover; Kindle).
While his patron is at Rome visiting new Emperor Pertinax, Libertus is nearly run down by a carriage. Next day he discovers a dead man hanging in his hut, and all the slaves have disappeared. Fifteenth in the series. [not yet rated]
16. The Ides of June
(US: Severn House, 2016, hardcover; Kindle).
Libertus investigates the murder of a councillor in a time when new leadership in Rome has deprived Libertus' patron of privilege and protection. He uncovers an ancient crime and a grisly secret that have important ramifications. Sixteenth in the series. [not yet rated]
17. The Price of Freedom
(US: Severn House, fothcoming February 2018, hardcover; Kindle).
Libertus investigates the death of a tax-collector and the disappearance of collected monies, but the case takes grisly, unexpected turns. Seventeenth in the series. [not yet rated]

Steven Saylor
1. Roman Blood
(New York: St. Martin's Press, 1991 hardcover; Ivy Books, 1992, paperback; London: Robinson Publishing, 1997, paperback).
Gordianus the Finder investigates the murder of a Roman noble by his own son. Based on the Sextus Roscius case. Cicero and the Dictator Sulla appear in this tale of Republican Rome. First in the series. [★★★★] [excerpt] [complete synopsis including spoilers] [ORDER USA] [AMAZON UK]
2. Arms of Nemesis
(New York: St. Martin's Press, 1992; Ivy Books, 1993, paperback; London: Robinson Publishing, 1997, paperback).
Gordianus goes to Naples to investigate the murderer of a Roman nobleman by his own slave. Unless he can discover otherwise, many innocent slaves will die. Crassus appears. Second in the series. [★★★★] [ORDER USA] [AMAZON UK]
3. Catilina's Riddle
(New York: St. Martin's Press, 1993; Ivy Books, 1994, paperback; London: Robinson Publishing, 1998, paperback).
A headless corpse turns up in the barn, meanwhile Gordianus finds himself in the middle of the Catiline Conspiracy. Cicero and Catilina appear. Third in the series. [★★★★] [ORDER USA] [ORDER UK] [AMAZON UK]
4. The Venus Throw
(New York: St. Martin's Press, 1995, hardcover; New York: G.K. Hall & Co., 1995, hardcover large print; New York: St. Martin's Press, 1996, paperback; London: Robinson, 1999, paperback).
Gordianus is set to visit his son Meto in Gaul when a visitor not all she seems turns up on his doorstep. It's murder and the Finder has his hands full between a hostile Cicero and the seductive, notorious Clodia. Fourth in the series. [★★★+] [ORDER USA] [AMAZON UK]
5. A Murder on the Appian Way
(New York: St. Martin's Press, 1996, hardcover; St. Martin's Press, 1997, paperback; London: Robinson Publishing, 1997, hardcover; London: Robinson Publishing, 1998, paperback).
The fifty-eight year old Gordianus finds his services much in demand following the murder of the populist politician Clodius. Cicero, Titus Annius Milo, Clodia, Pompey, Caesar and Marcus Antonius appear. Fifth in the series. [★★★★] [ORDER USA] [AMAZON UK]
6. Rubicon
(New York: St. Martin's Press, 1999, hardcover; London: Robinson, 1999, hardcover; London: Robinson, 2000, paperback; New York: Minotaur, 2000, paperback).
Shortly after Caesar crosses the Rubicon in his march on Rome, Pompey's kinsman turns up murdered in Gordianus' very own garden, setting off a chain of events in the course of which Gordianus seems to cross his own Rubicon. The novel ends shortly after the attempted siege of Brundisium and is clearly closely coupled with Last Seen in Massilia. Julius Caesar, Pompeius Maximus, Marcus Antonius, Cicero and Tiro appear. Sixth in the series. [★★★+] [ORDER USA] [AMAZON UK]
7. Last Seen in Massilia
(New York: Minotaur, 2000, hardcover; London: Robinson, 2000, hardcover; London: Robinson, 2001, paperback; New York: St. Martin's Press, 2001, paperback).
During the civil war between Pompeius and Julius Caesar, Gordianus' son Meto goes missing in Massilia (ancient Marseilles) in a grim and gruesome tale in which characters are assailed not only by murder, but also starvation, suicide, siege, war, drowning, deceit, remorse and even ugliness. Veers away from logical detection and toward pure historical novel. Julius Caesar, Titus Annius Milo, Gaius Verres and Gaius Trebonius appear. Seventh in the series. [★★★] [ORDER USA] [AMAZON UK]
8. A Mist of Prophecies
(New York: Minotaur, 2002, hardcover; London: Robinson Publishing, 2002, hardcover; New York: St. Martins, 2003, paperback).
While Pompeius and Caesar square off in Greece, the 62-year old Gordianus is back at Rome denying his mortality in the male way and also questioning the city's famous women re the death of a prominent seeress. No doubt the ladies deserve their day, with the difficulty in kindling dramatic interest in this hair dryer excursion being a modern equivalent to defeating Caesar on the battlefield. Tullia, Terentia, Calpurnia, Antonia, Fausta, Clodia, Fulvia (upon whom the creators of the Rome mini-series based their character Atia), Marcus Caelius and one other appear. Title from Aeschylus' Agamemnon: "After the darkness of her speech, I go bewildered in a mist of prophecies." The author is partly inspired by the work of fellow Berkeleyite Jeannine Davis-Kimball and concepts of the Sarmatian woman warriors. Eighth in the series. [★★★]
9. The Judgement of Caesar
(New York: Minotaur, 2004, hardcover; London: Robinson, 2004, hardcover; New York: Minotaur, 2004, paperback).
The author can handle a lighter tone very well. Unfortunately here the dark times in Gordianus' family are made to contrast with the already well-trod dark times in Egypt, Gordianus serving as the sometimes improbable witness-to-history. The mystery proper does not begin until after page 200. Julius Caesar, Cleopatra and Ptolemy appear. Ninth in the series. [★★]
US cover
UK cover
10. The Triumph of Caesar
(New York: Minotaur, 2008, hardcover; paperback; audio CD; Kindle; London: Robinson, 2008, hardcover; paperback; audio CD; MP3).
By 46 BC Caesar and the not-as-dead-as-we-feared Gordianus have both returned to a Rome where the former plans to celebrate four triumphs, but everyone seems to be acting out of character. Meanwhile, is someone trying to remove the Dictator? Actually, there is so much discussion of calendrical reform and imperial ambition that an alternate title might be "Of Calendars and Kings". This site's comments on the last two volumes in the series have discussed the delay in the mystery and the hero's incongruous age; this one starts with the hero saying how healthy he feels (at 64) and puts a dead body in chapter one. Hel-lo! Despite his pose as a man of the people, the Finder mostly hobnobs with the rich and famous; Caesar, Cicero, Mark Antony, Octavian, Atia, Calpurnia, Fulvia (whose mother Sempronia is portrayed as still alive though Wikipedia has her dead almost twenty years earlier), Vercingetorix, Brutus, Volumnia Cytheris, Arsinoe and Cleopatra appear. Once again, the emphasis is more on character sketches (including that of the city itself) than detection, but not as much as in A Mist of Prophecies. It's not that detection is so exciting, by the way, but it does help to propel the story. Motivation and resolution are somewhat dubious, and the Meto character seems to have reversed himself on concerns expressed in the last book, but as always writing style and dialog carry the day. Tenth in the series. [★★★+]
11. The Seven Wonders
(USA: St. Martin's Minotaur, 2012, hardcover; London: Robinson, 2012, hardcover).
The 18-year old Finder goes with his old tutor, the historical Antipater of Sidon on a tour to each of the ancient seven wonders of the world, plus a couple of wonder wannabees. Many of the chapters have previously been published as short stories including "Something to Do with Diana" (Temple of Artemis), "Styx and Stones" (Hanging Gardens of Babylon), "The Widows of Halicarnassus" (Mausoleum of Halicarnassus), "The Witch of Corinth" (not a wonder, but the ruins of Corinth), "The Monumental Gaul" (Colossus of Rhodes), "O Tempora! O Mores! Olympiad!" (not a wonder, but the ancient Olympic games) and "The Return of the Mummy" (the Great Pyramid). Clicking the above links yields comments on the individual stories. Overall, they contain plenty of good information on the wonders and the parallels between stories and the deep meanings of the wonders are very well considered. Perhaps it's too much to ask then that the stories vary at least a little in form. The overarching story seems a bit of a stretch, historically, as does the ability of the characters to reach the most distant wonder, but it does have an ending worthy of a Republic Pictures serial. Maybe Hollywood will finally do something with this series after all? Eleventh in the series chronologically, but first in terms of the Finder's storyline. [★★★+]
12. Raiders of the Nile
(USA: Minotaur, 2014, hardcover; London: Minotaur, 2014, hardcover).
In 88 BC, i.e. two years after the events of The Seven Wonders, Gordianus lives in Alexandria and begins his career as a solver of mysteries, but one of his most troubling cases ever is close at hand, the kidnapping of Bethesda. All of this occurs amid the impending invasion by the brother of Ptolemy IX. Like the old Columbo series the conclusion, or at least close, is given first, so the mystery is not what the solution is, but how the hero will reach it. Actually, the investigation portion of this 336-page tome is fairly short; the rest is part thriller, part episodic adventure in the vein of A Thousand Nights and a Night, and part Dickensian family romance as our hero is more carried by the sweep of events than making his own decisions. For some tastes this may be okay, but as in some of the previous novels the lack of an investigation causes drag at times. Features a bandits camp that seems rather idealized and the surprise return of a character from the previous novel. Twelfth in the series chronologically, but second in terms of the Finder's storyline. [★★★]
13. Wrath of the Furies
(USA: Minotaur, 2015, hardcover; London: Minotaur, 2015, hardcover).
Still in 88 BC, Mithridates takes advantage of the Social War raging in Italy to conquer the Roman provinces in Asia Minor. Gordianus receives a mysterious message that carries him to his ex-teacher, Antipater of Sidon, in Ephesus and leads to his playing the role of a spy. Antipater, Mithridates VI, Queen Monime, Publius Rutilius Rufus (great uncle of Julius Caesear), and Manius Aquillius appear. This is an often mysterious tale, but not a traditional mystery, rather a thriller or spy tale. It is also too frequently a story of people in deep misery, perhaps chosen to echo the Syrian refugee crisis of the mid-twenty-teens. There are many stories one can tell and perhaps some do read fiction as a political essay, but many of us get enough of this in the daily news whereas we read novels to escape. Other oddities:
  • While in the novel on the seven wonders there was nothing about the very long journey to Babylon, here relatively short journeys receive quite detailed treatments. More apparent padding appears whenever characters travel in a town and up and down stairs and so on.
  • A dubious historical explanation of the Mithridatic War seems to ignore Mithridates' initiation of the conflict.
  • Motivations – the reasons for taking the journey, the explanation of its trigger, etc. – seem rather doubtful.
  • A Zoroastrian magus inexplicably participates in a sacrifice in the Greek religion.
  • Gaius Cassius, presumably the father of the more famous murderer of Caesar of the same name, appears. Whereas Shakespeare describes the son as "lean, hungry", here the father is deliberately called "stout". Probably no one today knows the reality – an inside joke?
    Thirteenth in the series chronologically, but third in terms of the Finder's storyline. [★★+]
  • Alan Scribner
    1. Mars the Avenger
    (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2012, hardcover).
    During the reign of Antoninus Pius in AD 158 Roman judge Marcus Flavius Severus comes upon a murder victim while investigating the disappearance of a senator's wife. Said to take considerable interest in Roman daily life. Also available in Kindle edition. [not yet rated]
    2. The Cyclops Case
    (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2013, hardcover).
    It's 161 CE and change is afoot. Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus are the new co-emperors and the Parthians have invaded the empire. Judge Severus relaxes on vacation with his family at the Bay of Naples when a one-eyed general, lately recalled to join the army, instead turns up dead on the beach. Severus' investigations draw him into robbery, spying and counterfeiting. References the Jewish Revolt. Second in the series. [not yet rated]

    Kelli Stanley
    1. Nox Dormienda
    (Five Star Mysteries, 2008, hardcover).
    During the reign of Domitian, sometime detective, Arcturus, a Romano-Briton working as private physician for Agricola, governor of Britannia province, investigates the murder of an imperial envoy. Title means "A Long Night for Sleeping" in this overlong and often slow-moving book which may have too much evidence of the oil lamp. First in the series. [★+]
    cover 2. The Curse Maker
    (Minotaur, 2011, hardcover).
    Set in Britain's Bath, takes place in 84 AD, nine months after the first installment. Second in the series. [not available for review]

    A.C. Tassie
    Death of a Blue Hero
    (Salt Lake City: Northwest Publishing, 1995, paperback).
    Anthus, ambitious slave steward of Prefect of the Watch Macro, investigates the murder of a popular chariot racer, in the course of it uncovering corruption and more murders. This unusual multiple point-of-view mystery with first-person narrator delves in where Graves leaves off. Set in AD 26 during the reign of Tiberius. Livia, Claudius, Sejanus and a surprise character also appear. [★★+] A complimentary copy was provided to this site.
    Death of a Vestal Virgin
    (Canada: Felinity Press, 2006, paperback).
    When a Vestal Virgin is murdered, Anthus investigates amid religious, gladiatorial and aristocratic settings. The author's influences appear to be many. One is a sort of James Clavell book in which there are many characters acting quite independently and we see all of their points of view, eventually all coming together. Another might be the television program Law & Order where the crime is committed and an arrest made in the first half with the trial ensuing in the second. Yet another is shown in the prodigious amounts of research which appear. Sue Feder would have said that too much time was spent "under the oil lamp", i.e. doing historical research that shows up on the page, but actually does little to advance plot or character. Chapter XXXIII, for example, is nothing but a trip to the horse races. But on the other hand Melville's Moby Dick does much the same with all its detail about whale killing, but is often accorded a modern classic. There were a few too many characters and historical bits for this reader, but there were enjoyable parts too, especially the relationship between Macro and Anthus, master and man, an area in which the author seems to have many insights. Historical notes and glossary are included. Emperor Tiberius, Caligula, Vespasian, Macro and other luminaries appear. A complimentary copy was provided to this site. [★★]

    Marilyn Todd
    1. I, Claudia (A Mystery: 13 BC)
    (London: Macmillan Books, 1995; London: Pan Books, 1996,
    A beautiful 24-year old endeavors to discover why her male clients are being knocked off one by one, while the ambitious aristocrat Marcus Cornelius Orbilio investigates from the official side of the street. (Setup is reminiscent of The Roman Moon Mystery.) Photography of the protagonist in ancient Roman garb makes for a unique dustcover. First in the series. [★★]
    2. Virgin Territory
    (London: Macmillan Books, 1996,
    hardcover; London: Pan Books, 1997, paperback; London: Isis Large Print, 1997, large text).
    Six weeks after the events in I, Claudia, Claudia is asked to accompany a retired Vestal Virgin to Sicily, but Orbilio is suspicious. Then he discovers a female corpse... Another competitive investigation ensues. Second in the series. [★]
    3. Man Eater
    (London: Macmillan Books, 1997, hardcover; PAN, 1998,
    This time it appears that Claudia has been set up for a charge of murder when a man is found dead in her rooms. Third in the series. [not yet rated] [ORDER]
    4. Wolf Whistle
    (London: Macmillan Books, 1998, hardcover; Australia: Macmillan Books, 1999, paperback; London: Pan Books, 1999,
    With the Empire in crisis and insurrection looming, Claudia investigates the brutal murders of five slave girls, each killed on Market Day and linked by a dragon tattoo they each wear on their arms - and which marks them out as the "Children of Arbil". Fourth in the series. [not yet rated] [AMAZON UK]
    4. Jail Bait
    (London: Macmillan Books, 1999, hardcover; PAN, 2000,
    Claudia goes on holiday but it seems a cheat when her friend turns up dead. Fifth in the series. [not yet rated] [ORDER]
    6. Black Salamander
    ( London: Macmillan Books, 2000,
    hardcover; London: Macmillan Books, 2001, paperback).
    Claudia is delivering a pouch sealed with a black salamander when a rockfall in ancient Switzerland leaves her party stranded amid suspicious circumstances. Sixth in the series. [not yet rated]
    7. Dark Horse
    (London: Severn House, 2002, hardcover).
    Horse racing and pirates are featured. Seventh in the series. [not yet rated] [AMAZON UK]
    8. Dream Boat
    (London: Severn House, 2002, hardcover; (London: Severn House, 2004, paperback).
    Claudia's young relation is abducted. Eighth in the series. [not yet rated] [AMAZON UK]
    9. Second Act
    (London: Severn House, 2003, hardcover).
    A murderer lurks about the house during the Saturnalia season. Ninth in the series. [not yet rated]
    10. Widow's Pique
    (London: Severn House, 2004, hardcover).
    Claudia looks into the mysterious deaths that befall a king's family. Tenth in the series. [not yet rated]
    11. Stone Cold
    (London: Severn House, 2005, hardcover).
    Claudia ventures as far as Gaul, but more importantly, into her past, to discover the truth of her father's disappearance a decade earlier. The disappearances of several young women deepen the case. Eleventh in the series. [not yet rated]
    12. Sour Grapes
    (London: Severn House, 2005, hardcover).
    Claudia goes out to Tuscany to visit her stepmother, encountering a sorceress and a handsome horse trader along the way, as well as a series of murders. Twelfth in the series. [not yet rated]
    13. Scorpion Rising
    (London: Severn House, 2006, hardcover; paperback).
    Claudia encounters priestesses keeping men as sex slaves while tracking down a murderer in southwestern Gaul. Thirteenth in the series. [not yet rated]

    David Wishart
    1. Ovid
    (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1995, hardcover; London: Sceptre, 1996, paperback ).
    Aristocrat Marcus Valerius Messalla Corvinus uncovers a conspiracy of silence which prevents his recovery of the ashes of the exiled Ovid. In the tradition of Suetonius and Graves. The writings of ill-fated General Quinctilius Varus appear, regrettably less so, those of Ovid. A mystery with political thriller. First in the series. [★★+]
    (By the way, the cognomen "Corvinus" means "The Crow", a name granted to one branch of the Valerius sept after events of 384 BC in which an army tribune by name of Valerius was challenged to single combat by a Celtic chieftain in lieu of a general melee. As the battle began, a crow perched on Valerius' helmet and then proceeded to attack the eyes and face of the Celt, who, dismayed by this divine disfavor, collapsed and was killed.) This novel is discussed in Two thousand years of solitude: exile after Ovid, which includes a Helen Lovatt essay, "The Mystery of Ovid's Exile: Ovid and the Roman detectives". [AMAZON UK]
    2. Germanicus
    (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1997, hardcover; London: Sceptre, 1997, paperback).
    After the trial of Piso, Livia commissions Marcus Valerius Messalla Corvinus with solving the death of Germanicus in Syria. Tiberius, Sejanus, Agrippina, Drusus, Livilla and the consul Marcus Valerius Cotta Maximus Messalinus also appear in this political thriller about events and characters which never really manage to thrill, or even make us care. Second in the series. [★] [AMAZON UK]
    3. Sejanus
    (London: Sceptre, 1998, hardcover; London: Sceptre, 1998, paperback).
    Marcus Valerius Messalla Corvinus receives an assignment from Livia to check the growing power of Imperial prefect Sejanus. Third in the series. [not yet rated] [AMAZON UK]
    4. Lydian Baker
    (London: Sceptre, 1998; hardcover; London: Sceptre, 1999, paperback).
    While exiled to Athens, Marcus Valerius Messalla Corvinus investigates how a valuable Greek artifact has suddenly come on the open market and who purchased it, which lead to the dangerous world of organized crime. Fourth in the series. [not yet rated] [AMAZON UK]
    5. Old Bones
    (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 2000, hardcover; London: New English Library, 2001, paperback).
    Marcus must clear his father-in-law of murder and find the real culprit in a story interwoven with myth and history. Fifth in the series. [not yet rated] [AMAZON UK]
    6. Last Rites
    (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 2001, hardcover; London: Sceptre, 2002, paperback).
    Wishart's turn to take a look at the Bona Dea ceremony, previously treated by John Maddox Roberts in The Sacrilege and in The Venus Throw by Steven Saylor, posits the mysterious death of a young woman. Marcus Valerius Messalla Corvinus is back to investigate of course, being helped once again by his wife as well as a young flute player. Sixth in the series. [not yet rated]
    7. White Murder
    (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 2002, hardcover; paperback).
    Marcus Valerius Messalla Corvinus investigates the death of yet another unfortunate champion charioteer, a topic previously taken up in Shadows in Bronze, SPQR II, The Catiline Conspiracy, Death of a Blue Hero, La Course de l'espoir, Rebellion im Circus Maximus, Mörderisches Rennen and "The Consul's Wife", Mount Etna also makes an appearance. Seventh in the series. [not yet rated]
    8. A Vote for Murder
    (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 2003, hardcover; London: Coronet, 2003, paperback).
    Corvinus investigates the sudden death of a consular candidate. Eighth in the series. [not yet rated]
    9. Parthian Shot
    (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 2004, hardcover; London: Hodder & Stoughton, 2004, signed hardcover; London: Coronet, 2004, paperback; New York: Hodder & Stoughton, 2004, hardcover; New York: New English Library, 2004, paperback).
    Corvinus investigates an attack on a Parthian prince and learns a lot about the spice trade. Ninth in the series. [not yet rated] [AMAZON USA]
    10. Food for the Fishes
    (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 2005,
    hardcover; London: Hodder & Stoughton, 2005, paperback).
    The owner of a fish-farm is found drowned in one of his own eel tanks. Tenth in the series. [not yet rated]
    11. In at the Death
    (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 2007,
    hardcover; London: Hodder Paperback, 2007, paperback).
    Marcus investigates the apparent suicide of a young man, but in the process finds political dimension to a likely murder. Eleventh in the series. [not yet rated]
    12. Illegally Dead
    (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 2008,
    hardcover; London: Hodder & Stoughton, 2009, paperback).
    Corvinus is off to Castrimoenium (modern Marino in central Italy) upon hearing of a possible murder. Soon two other corpses are found ... Twelfth in the series. [not yet rated] [USA hardcover] [USA paperback]
    13. Bodies Politic
    (UK: PlashMill Press, 2010,
    Corvinus visits Alexandria and encounters anti-Semitic Greeks. Cover looks like someone just grabbed one of the Fayum mummy portraits and stuck it on a black background:
    Thirteenth in the series. [not yet rated]
    14. No Cause for Concern
    (UK: CreateSpace, 2012, paperback).

    Crime boss Sempronius Eutacticus returns after four years because his stepson is missing. Marcus Corvinus investigates.
    Fourteenth in the series. [not yet rated]
    15. Solid Citizens
    (UK: Creme de la Crime, 2013,
    USA: Creme de la Crime, 2013, hardcover).

    During the Saturnalia of AD 39, Corvinus discovers a politician beaten to death at a brothel in the Alban Hills. In Bovillae he finds small town intrigue sufficient to match that of Rome itself. A rare Roman mystery set in the reign of Caligula. Of course, Caligula should have arranged for a nice, long reign, like Augustus; he'd have had more novels.
    Fourteenth in the series. [not yet rated]
    16. Finished Business
    (UK: Creme de la Crime, 2014,
    USA: Creme de la Crime, 2014, hardcover).

    In AD 40 Corvinus investigate the death of a wealthy aristocrat, uncovering scandals and a wide number of suspects. The emperor Caligula appears. Sixteenth in the series. [not yet rated]

    Copyright © 1994-2014 by Richard M. Heli.
    Permission granted to reprint so long as this notice is preserved in its entirety and I am informed prior to the re-use. Published since June 1994.