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Monday, February 24, 2014

Medicus by Ruth Downie

Genre: Historical Fiction, Historical Mystery

Setting: England in the early second century.

First Sentence: Someone had washed the mud off the body, but as Gaius Petreius Ruso unwrapped the sheet, there was still a distinct smell of river water.

This novel is the first in Downie's Medicus series.

Ruso is a military doctor.  He has just arrived to new posting in Briton.  Unfortunately, one of his first duties is performing a postmortem exam exam of a young woman.

Ruso is not a sleuth, but when another young woman turns up dead, he begins to ask questions.  Could there be a connection between the two deaths?

Ruso is in Briton due to a messy divorce.  Additionally, his family is relying on him to send home some cash so they can pay off the loans on the family farm.

Then there is Tilla.  When Ruso sees a slave trader abusing her, Ruso buys Tilla.  Ruso sets her broken arm and nurses her back to health.  At first, Ruso realizes that he could make a large profit by selling Tilla after she regains her health.  But, Ruso learns that she means more to him than simply her resale value.

As Ruso investigates, he learns about the slave trade and its connection to a local brothel.  As he comes closer to uncovering the truth, Ruso learns that, in learning the truth, he might lose Tilla.

For me, this novel was a real page turner.  The last half of the book was great and I devoured the pages.  I especially appreciated the relationship between Tilla and Ruso.  Their fondness grew slowly.  Their communication was made more difficult because their differences in culture and social class.

I think the author made good use of the third person limited point of view.  Several times Ruso learns something, but the author doesn't let us know what it is.  This helped heighten my interest in the plot, and kept me reading.

In my opinion, this was a great read.

The Medicus Series


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