Steven Saylor has had a lifelong fascination with ancient Rome, from the drive-in movies of his boyhood ("Cleopatra, Spartacus, Ben Hur"), to his degree in history from the University of Texas, and through his appearances on the History Channel as an expert on Roman politics and life. He is the author of the Roma Sub Rosa series as well as "A Twist at the End," a historical novel set in 19th century Texas. He divides his time between Berkeley, California and Austin, Texas.
In the ninth book in Saylor's "Roma Sub Rosa" series of mysteries set in ancient Rome, Gordianus the Finder has now retired from his life as an investigator of crime and political intrigue and has settled into peaceful domesticity with his family. But his newfound tranquility is soon shattered by a series of events brought on by the continuing struggle between Julius Caesar and Pompey for supremacy over Rome. Gordianus's wife falls ill, the city is in upheaval owing to food shortages and rising prices, and factions within the city begin to vie for power in Caesar's absence. When Cassandra, a beautiful seeress who is subject to epileptic seizures and prophetic outbursts, is poisoned and dies in his arms, Gordianus is drawn out of retirement and into an increasingly dangerous investigation of the murder. Intriguing both as a mystery and as a historical novel, this should find a wide audience. Readers will enjoy the plot twists, the deft portrayal of characters, and the attention to historical detail. Saylor is particularly fine in his presenting of the common people of Rome. Recommended for larger public libraries. Jane Baird, Anchorage Municipal Libs., AK Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
"It would be impossible to imagine a more stellar lineup of suspects in all imperial Rome."--"Kirkus Reviews""One of the best mystery series being published today...A pitch-perfect work...gripping prose."--"Austin Chronicle""A gritty depiction of the underbelly of the great city in its heyday. The secret history of Rome has never been so fascinating."--Maxim Jakubowski, " The Guardian" (London)"A chilling mystery."--"Booklist""Intriguing both as a mystery and as a historical novel...recommended."--"Library Journal""Outstanding...intelligent and compelling...Saylor shows once again why fans of ancient historicals regard him as the leader of the field."-"Publishers Weekly"
In Saylor's ninth outstanding Roman historical (after 2000's Last Seen in Massilia), it's 48 B.C. and the Empire is wracked by civil war and civic unrest. In Rome, the beautiful and enigmatic seeress, Cassandra, has everyone from Forum "chin-waggers" to high-society matrons entranced by her convulsionlike attacks of prophecy. Gordianus the Finder, more captivated than most, finds himself involved professionally and romantically with the seeming madwoman. Officially he's retired from his finding duties, but he resumes the hunt after Cassandra, just before dying in his arms in the market, whispers, "She's poisoned me!" Seven of Rome's most influential women including Caesar's wife, Calpurnia attend the seeress's humble funeral. All have something to do with Cassandra's fate, just as she, in secret ways, has something to do with the fate of Rome itself. The action picks up as Gordianus interviews these women and tries to sort out their connections to Cassandra. Conversations among Gordianus's chin-waggers also serve to clarify the situation. As usual, Saylor's research is impeccable, but the history never distracts from the very human drama. Especially touching is Gordianus's wife, Bethesda, whose "malady" is a source of concern and mystery to her errant husband. With this intelligent and compelling story, Saylor shows once again why fans of ancient historicals regard him as the leader of the field. Author tour. (May 20) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.