Ron Burns Roman Shadows: A Novel

ISBN 13: 9780312085148

Roman Shadows: A Novel

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9780312085148: Roman Shadows: A Novel
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When the young Roman senator Gaius Livinius Severus marries into a fabulously wealthy family, he seems destined for a life of traditional ease and comfort. But his future is shattered when the illustrious Cicero casually asks Livinius to keep an eye on a certain prominent politician.
Soon enough, Livinius finds himself investigating a series of especially brutal and scandalous murders - and, along with it, getting a close-up look at Rome's descent from republican chaos into autocratic butchery.
The web of intrigue is so complex that even Livinius isn't sure he understands it all, until years later when the young tyrant Augustus demands to know what Cicero knew - and at last Livinius finds his own life on the line in the name of service to Rome.
In this fascinating, richly drawn follow-up to his debut novel, Roman Nights (St. Martin's Press, 1991), Ron Burns proves himself a master of the historical mystery, with an unerring sense of the drama and intricacy of ancient times.

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From Publishers Weekly:

Gaius Livinius Severus, sleuthing hero of the well-received Roman Nights , returns in a tepid adventure that may well leave those unfamiliar with the first book wondering what all the commotion was about. In 43 B.C., nine months after Julius Caesar's assassination, the boy emperor Augustus summons Livinius and reproaches him for submitting a misleading report about events that occurred some years earlier. Augustus wants "the truth," and a lengthy flashback begins in 52 B.C., depicting a three-sided struggle among supporters of the Republic, Caesar and Pompey. At the same time, new bridegroom and senator Livinius investigates the murders of several young men, all of whom have been sodomized. After much political intrigue, the discovery of some long-lost letters and a pat explanation from Augustus help resolve the mystery--no thanks to Livinius, who may be the dimmest Roman of them all. Typical of his meandering, desultory investigative style is this interchange: "But did he ever actually say anything to give you that idea?" "Well, that's just it; in a way it seems like he did . . . but I can't really remember what, exactly." The historical characters and situation provide the only heat and action; local color consists of gore and minimal references to food and clothing.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Kirkus Reviews:

In this muffled sequel to Roman Nights (1991), the orator Cicero, who took such a prominent part last time, has to settle for a supporting role to his own acolyte, the fictional Gaius Livinius Severus, whom he casually suggests keep a close eye on ambitious politician Gaius Scribonius Curio. Livinius dutifully worms himself into Curio's confidence--and promptly finds that he's at the center of a maelstrom of murder (eventually totaling five victims); the scandalous Mark Antony's scabrous sexual practices; and the breakup of the Roman republic under Julius Caesar. Burns works hard to give this farrago of fictional homicide and political history urgency--framing it by references to Livinius's star-crossed interrogation years later by brilliant, brutal Augustus Caesar and ending with an extended Roman civics lesson--but the surprise he's saved for last falls flat. Only average, then, for Roman scandals, and well below the mark established by Burns's first. -- Copyright ©1992, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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