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Ruso and the Demented Doctor (Medicus Investigations 2) [Paperback]

R. S. Downie
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
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Book Description

16 April 2009 Medicus Investigations 2

N.B. R S Downie is published in the US as Ruth Downie and this book, RUSO AND THE DEMENTED DOCTOR, is published in the US as TERRA INCOGNITA.

Wind-swept North Britannia, where the natives are in the mood for killing . . .

Gaius Petreius Ruso, medicus to the Twentieth Legion, has been posted to the hostile north - and thrown into a no-win situation. Thessalus, the current doctor at the Fort of Coria, has confessed to a grisly murder and his Prefect demands Ruso take charge of the patients and convince Thessalus to retract his confession. Or else. It seems a reputation for solving tricky murders down south isn't always helpful.

Unfortunately, the corpse is offering up few answers other than to suggest that the natives might be more murderous than restless. If Ruso is to identify the killer, he'll need all his wits about him to keep Romans, natives and slave girls from each other's throats.

Frequently Bought Together

Ruso and the Demented Doctor (Medicus Investigations 2) + Ruso and the Root of All Evils (Medicus Investigations 3) + Ruso and the River of Darkness (Medicus Investigation 4)
Price For All Three: 23.55

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Product details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (16 April 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141027266
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141027265
  • Product Dimensions: 2.9 x 12.9 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 162,298 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Ruth (RS) Downie left university with an English degree and a plan to get married and live happily ever after. She is still working on it. In the meantime she is also the New York Times bestselling author of a mystery series featuring Roman doctor Gaius Petreius Ruso.

The latest book is 'Semper Fidelis', and the previous four are:

Medicus (published as 'Medicus/Ruso and the Disappearing Dancing Girls' in the UK and Australia)

Terra Incognita ('Ruso and the Demented Doctor')

Persona non Grata ('Ruso and the Root of All Evils')

Caveat Emptor ('Ruso and the River of Darkness')

Ruth is not the RS Downie who writes real medical textbooks. Absolutely none of the medical advice in the Ruso books should be followed. Roman and Greek doctors were very wise about many things but they were also known to prescribe donkey dung and boiled cockroaches.

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Product Description


'A lot of buzz surrounds the debut novel by R. S. Downie - the first in what will prove a successful series' Observer 'A good yarn, with all the ingredients of a serial soap opera. Ruso will be a hit, even if he wears socks with his sandals' The Times 'Ruso rocks. Let's hear it for those Romans' Kirkus

About the Author

R. S. Downie is the author of Ruso and the Disappearing Dancing Girls, which was a New York Times bestseller (under the different title, Medicus) and is available as a Penguin paperback. She is married with two sons and lives in Buckinghamshire.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Roman Gumsandal Strikes Again 15 May 2008
Hurrah! "Ruso and the Demented Doctor" is even better than "Ruso and the Disappearing Dancing Girls", the first of R S Downie's army surgeon detective adventures set in Roman Britain. Ruso and Tilla, now his housekeeper, accompany a detachment of the Twentieth Legion from Deva (Chester) to Coria (Corbridge), a fort on the northern frontier near Tilla's tribal lands. Trouble naturally awaits: a Roman soldier has been murdered and the fort's doctor confesses (but he's as mad as a bucket of frogs). Meanwhile, a sinister native with antlers on his head is making mischief - and the Governor is about to pay a visit. So Ruso the Reluctant is roped in to do his least favourite job, with no help from Tilla who's been reunited with various relatives, and an ex-boyfriend - all of whom cause her to re-examine her loyalties.

The mystery is tantalisingly played out, but the elements that make this novel shine for me are the characters and the setting. Coria is a frontier fort with a shanty town attached. Here live the garrison 'wives' and girlfriends, a motley collection of merchants on the make, and natives who are beginning to see that the Empire might have something to offer them after all. The interactions between conquerors and conquered are handled in a way that makes them both true to their time and real to us across all the centuries that separate us. And Downie is skilled at showing the texture of her characters' lives and circumstances. Mainly they rub along together, Roman and native, but when those Britons who haven't come in from the cold get rebellious, everybody gets the shivers.

Ruso, wry, humane and recently divorced, who can't get far enough away from his troublesome family in Gaul and Tilla, torn between Ruso and her tribal loyalty, are shaping up to be a great double act in both head and heart. And each of them has an intriguing past that's being gradually revealed. I for one can't wait to meet Ruso's stepmother, Arria!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Fun for Fans of All Things Roman 21 Mar 2008
By J. Chippindale TOP 500 REVIEWER
Beware, this book is also published under the title TERRA INCOGNITA.

After all the confusion with the first book, masquerading under two titles and a change of front cover, which fooled me into buying two copies of the same book, I was unsure whether to put any of my hard earned cash down on this one, but all things being equal the first book was an enjoyable read in the same vein as Lindsey Davis or Steven Saylor, so why cut off my nose to spite my face.

This is the second novel in the Medicus Series, Ruso and the Disappearing Dancing Girls (aka Medicus, 2006) featuring as its main character, Gaius Petreius Ruso, a divorced and down on his luck army doctor, who has made the rash decision of attempting tomake not only a career but a fortune in the far flung reaches the Roman Empire, namely Britain.

In the previous book Russo and the Disappearing Dancing Girls, Gaius manages to acquire himself a slave girl Tilla, not even Gaius is sure how he managed to do that, but the pair of them make a good team and the antics and scrapes that they get up to between them makes for enjoyable reading. If the books continue to the same standard of the first two there is no reason why this should not be an excellent series. Whether it ever achieves the cult status of the Lindsey Davis offerings remains to be seen.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As good as the first 22 Jan 2009
This second novel is as good as if not even better than the first.
Wonderful dry British humour and a good plot.
I can hardly wait for the 3rd novel which will be out later this year.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I loved it..... 16 Aug 2009
I had read the first Russo book and thoroughly enjoyed it, as it was lighthearted and despite the historical setting quite a lot different from the Lindsey Davis novels. The second did not disappoint. I enjoyed the story, which unravelled very nicely with lots of nice little character sketches and bits of dialogue. The interplay between the characters and the jokes were nicely done and the romantic development between Russo and Tilla was lovely. I am definately looking forward to the third installment whenever it arrive (please write a bit faster Ms Downie!).
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Russo Demented Doctor 3 Nov 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I loved this book and could not put it down. I have read the 3 in the series all within a month. I have finished her latest book and can't wait for another (I hope there will be another). A great find!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Different, intelligent and a pleasure to read. 18 Oct 2013
Like the previous book in the series, known here in the UK as "Medicvs and the disappearing dancing girls" I very much enjoyed Ruth Downie's second outing of the Ruso and Tilla series. I find she really has a great handle on the characters and their motivations, they shown good and believable development throughout, and I particularly like the interactions and chemistry between some of them, like Ruso and Albanus, his clerk, or between him and Tilla - his love interest. The latter, I think, is one of the parts I like most about the novel, and I constantly find myself wondering when they will next speak. You feel a sympathy for the doctor, inevitably falling in love with his slave, not knowing how to handle it, but the author not once overdoes it. She takes its time with it, and I was pleasantly impressed their relationship gets to a certain point towards the end and they not once say the three magic words - and I believe it is a huge strength of the author that she weaves a tale where the emotions and feeling speak for themselves.

The actual mystery of the murder was well thought out, had plenty of twists and turns and was engaging and thrilling. She also paints a very good picture of Roman coria (though a bit smaller than it would have been) and life in general in 2nd century Britannia. Besides the characters, one of the things I very much enjoy about the style of writing is that it is both uncomplicated while being pleasantly witty, intelligent and highly entertaining, which I believe to be the hallmark of a great writer.

All in all, I deeply enjoyed Ruso and the Demented Doctor.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars second book
Another enjoyable encounter with the roman doctor and his friends. Threads from the dancing girls story wove through this one, and again Ruso s powers of deduction worked in the... Read more
Published 5 days ago by Judyann
5.0 out of 5 stars Is there a doctor about
Natives and Romans fighting for what each believe to right. Where have we heard that before?

Ruso with Tilla again get into a personal dispute whilst trying to find a... Read more
Published 5 months ago by maggierb
5.0 out of 5 stars Ruso and theDemented Doctor
A brilliant series , I've read all 5 in a week couldn't put them down. Can't wait for the next one
Published 16 months ago by Margaret Teggert
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent second volume to the Medicus series
Having greatly enjoyed the first book in this series, I felt compelled to move on to the second. *mild spoilers ahead* The story takes up the story of Ruso, a somewhat hapless... Read more
Published on 6 Aug 2012 by Ben Kane
3.0 out of 5 stars A Light Holiday Read, But Best Avoided By Roman Buffs
I picked up this book at my local library. Fatigued by the over-saturation of Roman military fiction, I was desperate to find something a bit different set in Ancient Rome. Read more
Published on 20 May 2012 by Dignitas
4.0 out of 5 stars Hugely entertaining
I've always been a lover of literature set in Roman times, and of detective novels too, so to find both combined in a delightful fashion is a real treat (I was, quite frankly, also... Read more
Published on 9 May 2009 by Didier
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