Genre: Historical Mystery
Setting: Southern Gaul, 119 AD
First Sentence: Justinius was lying in the stinking dark of the ship's hold, bruised and beaten, feeling every breath twist hot knives in this chest.
This novel is the third in Downie's Gaius Ruso mystery series which currently runs to six books.
Or main character, Ruso is a doctor for a Roman military unit in Britannia. One night, in an attempt to protect a young boy from being roughed up by some Roman legionaries, Ruso breaks his foot. while waiting for his leg to heal, Ruso receives an enigmatic note from his brother asking him to come home.
So Ruso, and his "barbarian" woman Tilla head to Ruso's family farm in southern Gaul. Once he arrives he finds his family in disarray. His sisters are demanding a dowery. His brother is bungling the family finances. And, the family is close to loosing the farm to bankruptcy.
The last thing they needed was Ruso to show up. No one will admit to writing the note.
Then, while Ruso is trying to get a handle on all of the family issues, the husband of Ruso's ex-wife dies unexpectedly at Ruso's farm. The husband looks like he has been poisoned. And Ruso is a prime suspect.
Now we follow Ruso and Tilla as they sort out all of the family's problems. Once again, Tilla shows that she is the smart, level-headed partner that Ruso needs.
Will Ruso and Tilla be able to sort out the murder, and the family's problems?
I enjoyed reading about Ruso and his messy family life. In my opinion, it was a realistic peek at daily life in an ancient Roman family.