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The hideously disfigured body was found in the atrium. The only clues are a blood-soaked cloak, and, carved into the stone at the corpse's feet, the word Sparta . . . The Overseer of Marcus Crassus's estate has been murdered, apparently by two slaves bent on joining Spartacus's revolt. The wealthy, powerful Crassus vows to honor an ancient law and have his ninety-nine remaining slaves slaughtered in three days. Gordianus the Finder is summoned from Rome by a mysterious client to find out the truth about the murder before the three days are up.
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My high school Latin teacher -- Sister Ethelreda, are you out there in cyberspace? -- enthralled her class for four years with her tales of ancient Rome, from culinary trivia to the deeds of the noble generals and the great Roman patriots. It was her hope, as she said, not only to teach us this beautiful language but to be able to bring to life for us the people who formed the vibrant culture that was Rome's. I heard an echo of her words many years later when I read THE FAR ARENA, in which the protagonist wished earnestly to be able to turn a doorknob in time and find the Roman behind the door.
With Steven Saylor's mysteries, we have that Roman behind the door. Set in ancient Rome before the rise of Julius Caesar, these are not your usual cozy reads. His detective, Gordianus the Finder, seems a scruffy sort, not a noble Roman from the history books by any means, and his Rome is a rough-and-tumble place full of noisy street vendors and con artists as well as more well-to-do, upstanding citizens, a city full of gossip and intrigue and nasty politics as vicious as anything we see today. The noble Romans do appear in his books, of course, but they're a far cry from the bloodless statues who watch serenely from the covers of Latin books as students painstakingly translate their dry speeches. Marcus Tullius Cicero, for one, appears in CATILINA'S RIDDLE not as a statesman but as an underhanded schemer obsessed with destroying Lucius Sergius Catilina, who has gone down in history, rightly or wrongly, as a man who attempted to bring down the Roman Republic. You, the reader, will be left to judge.
--Margaret Sanborn, Senior Publicity Copywriter
aining...Saylor's sense of style and elegantly witty writing make the most of this genre transference."
THE BOSTON GLOBE
South of Rome on the Gulf of Puteoli stands the splendid villa of Marcus Crassus, Rome's wealthiest citizen. When the estate overseer is murdered, Crassus concludes that the deed was done by two missing slaves, who have probably run off to join the Spartacan Slave Revolt. Unless they are found within five days, Crassus vows to massacre his remaining ninety-nine slaves.
To Gordianus the Finder falls the fateful task of resolving this riddle from Hades. In a house filled with secrets, the truth is slow to emerge. And as the hour of the massacre approaches, Gordianus realizes that the labyrinthine path he has chosen just may lead to his own destruction...
AN ALTERNATE SELECTION OF THE BOOK-OF-THE-MONTH CLUB
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Book Description Minotaur Books, 2001. Mass Market Paperback. Condition: New. Seller Inventory # DADAX0312978324
Book Description Minotaur Books, 2001. Condition: New. book. Seller Inventory # M0312978324