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Sour Grapes (Claudia) Paperback – 28 Apr 2006


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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Severn House Publishers Ltd (28 April 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0727891588
  • ISBN-13: 978-0727891587
  • Product Dimensions: 13.9 x 2 x 21.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 857,882 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Marilyn Todd is a critically acclaimed author of short stories and historical thrillers, who "paints antiquity with a particularly suspenseful brush and skillfully tangled plots" (Booklist). Her Roman series features "a gorgeous rich bitch, plotting and spying to survive adverse fortune" (Daily Mail). The Greek novels feature "an abundance of historical tidbits and robust prose" (Kirkus Reviews). All her work embraces humour, suspense and a lively sense of drama, often inspired by the places she visits.

Her short story "The Wickedest Town in the West" won one of Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine's prestigious Readers Awards.

Another story, "Room for Improvement", about quickie divorces in 1950s Brighton, was also nominated for a Shamus.

She and her husband currently live on a French hilltop surrounded by vineyards and woods, and when she isn't killing people, Marilyn enjoys cooking. Which is pretty much the same thing.

Product Description

Synopsis

Visiting her stepmother at the family estate in Tuscany, Claudia is concerned at the gaggle of hangers-on surrounding the old lady. There's the sorceress Candace and the handsome horse trader Darius, both of whom seem to hold Larentia equally in their thrall. And, what of the series of recent local murders, and the mishaps - including soured wine - that have befallen a number of people? Amidst the mysteries of the local religion, could the god Fufluns be working some plan; or even Veive, the god of revenge? Or are there even more sinister forces at work?

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 11 Feb 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I had read some of Marilyn Todd's Claudia books in the past and enjoyed them. They are always well researched historically and have an edge. I enjoyed this one as much as the others and will continue to read her books.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By J. Chippindale TOP 500 REVIEWER on 16 Sep 2006
Format: Paperback
Marilyn Todd's fast paced historical murder mysteries set in the time of Ancient Rome and featuring the beautiful Claudia Seferius are growing in popularity and the author is up there with the David Wishart's, Steven Saylor`s, not forgetting the Lindsey Davis's of the book world. Perhaps to have a woman and an alluring one at that, rather than a man as the sleuth and lead character is a stroke of genius on Todd's part.

Claudia knows that she is looked upon as easy pickings by some of the men who are eager to try to take advantage of a beautiful widow who has been left a thriving wine business by her late husband.. But nothing could be further from the truth. Behind the beautiful exterior lies an intelligent and shrewd mind and the heart any lion would be proud of.

Claudia has some cause for concern. She is in Tuscany visiting the family estate of her stepmother and is more than a little perturbed about the group of hangers on that seem to be surrounding the old lady like a flock of vultures, waiting for their prey to final succumb. There has also bee a spate of murders in the region and so called accidents have befallen a number of the local people.

Could the gods be at work in this. The local people are very superstitious and some believe that the local gods are at work. Or are things a lot more sinister than a few local superstitions . . .
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By riaz mead on 13 Aug 2014
Format: Hardcover
good purchase
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
A sweet wine 17 Jun 2006
By ilmk - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Todd's latest Claudia Seferius irreverent adventure is an improvement on the last. We find our fiery, wilful, high maintenance sleuth off to visit her mother-in-law, Larentia, who has just announced her intention to marry a man a lot younger than herself. To Claudia's alarm this raises the possibility of her losing her independence and financial security. Not something that can be tolerated! Her journey to Tuscany lands us with a murderer whose fixation on the Etruscan gods has led to the deaths of three teenagers. Possible motives abound with the overly emotional boyfriend of one of the deceased declaring it was he who caused the death. His fiercely military father refuses to believe it, going out of his way to ensure no suspicion falls on his son. In the meantime, Claudia herself is regretting bringing her niece, Flavia, and her latest earthy boyfriend along for fear they are next in line.

With the impending celebrations of the local god, Fufluns, the persistent presence of the mysterious Candace who claims to commune with dead and the arrival of a sandal-wood smelling member of the security police, Claudia finds herself trying to unravel the litany of bad events affecting the townsfolk, uncovers an attempt at revenge that goes back years and gives Orbilio's heart strings a nasty tug when he thinks she might want to marry him.

I like Todd's series despite the obsession with all her villains being insane and instructed by higher powers to carry out their nefarious deeds. The `will they? won't they?' dance of Marcus and Claudia is also wearing thin. Take their relationship further, Todd! Whilst the series is not akin to Saylor, David or Roberts, it has its place in the pantheon of Roman murder mystery and is a delightful read on that hot sunny afternoon.

More, please.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Claudia Has Her Work Cut Out 16 Sep 2006
By J. Chippindale - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Marilyn Todd's fast paced historical murder mysteries set in the time of Ancient Rome and featuring the beautiful Claudia Seferius are growing in popularity and the author is up there with the David Wishart's, Steven Saylor`s, not forgetting the Lindsey Davis's of the book world. Perhaps to have a woman and an alluring one at that, rather than a man as the sleuth and lead character is a stroke of genius on Todd's part.

Claudia knows that she is looked upon as easy pickings by some of the men who are eager to try to take advantage of a beautiful widow who has been left a thriving wine business by her late husband.. But nothing could be further from the truth. Behind the beautiful exterior lies an intelligent and shrewd mind and the heart any lion would be proud of.

Claudia has some cause for concern. She is in Tuscany visiting the family estate of her stepmother and is more than a little perturbed about the group of hangers on that seem to be surrounding the old lady like a flock of vultures, waiting for their prey to final succumb. There has also bee a spate of murders in the region and so called accidents have befallen a number of the local people.

Could the gods be at work in this. The local people are very superstitious and some believe that the local gods are at work. Or are things a lot more sinister than a few local superstitions . . .
Not a cozy mystery! Sexual perversity and violence. Unpleasant protagonist. To each his own! 21 July 2014
By C. Martinelli - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This mystery series, the Claudia Seferius Mystery Series, set in Ancient Rome under Caesar Augustus (circa 10-15 b.c.) runs for 13 books. These are not cozy novels, despite the books' deceptively cozy covers. All the novels feature perverse sex and sex crimes. The books also gloss over the institutionalized sadism of Roman society, especially slavery.

The protagonist, Claudia Seferius, is a former prostitute, who does not hesitate to return to her former profession when short of cash.

Claudia manages, at the age of 18, to become the trophy wife of a rich wine merchant. The man dies soon after. Claudia defies the paternalistic Roman society, and the powerful Wine Merchants Guide, and takes over the running of her husband's wine business. She thus becomes the financial provider, the head of household, for her late husband's mother, sister, daughter and brother--in-law.

As the need comes up (which is does in each novel, of course), Claudia also investigates crime, sometimes with the help or obstruction of a Roman official, Marcus Cornelius Orbilio, who has the hots for Claudia.

That is the premise of the series, and the "romantic" element, actually, the lustful attraction, between Claudia and Marcus, is not resolved until the final book. The first book sets up the characters and the premise, and they are explained again near the beginning of each book of the series.

I cannot stress strongly enough that these are not cozy (or cosy, since this is a British series) novels. They are as sexually vile as David Hewson's novels. Sour Grapes alone features homophobia, pedophilia, incest, and rape.

Claudia's character is unpleasant: driven, self-centered, unprincipled, curt, harsh, snarky, profligate, mercurial and superficial. But she is gorgeous, and vain enough to invest money in remaining gorgeous. Marcus admits he does not love Claudia, and realizes he is drawn to her nasty nature and loose sexuality; he has a bad-girl complex.

For fans of historical fiction set in Ancient Rome, the author includes lots of historical facts, and works hard to bring the past to life for the reader. Having a female protagonist means that the focus is often on the poor position of women in Ancient Roman society; women were second-class citizens in a paternalistic and misogynistic society.

Stylistically, the books follow the cozy formula: a wide cast of suspect characters are introduced, a crime surfaces, Claudia investigates and gets into a dangerous situation, and she eventually succeeds in bringing the guilty to justice. I found the punctuation odd. The author seems to have something against colons and semi-colons, using periods instead. I found the fragmentary sentences distracting.

There are many fans of this series. As you can probably tell from my review, I am not one of them, but to each his own...

Please read my full, illustrated review at Italophile Book Reviews.
Great Entertainment 11 April 2007
By B. Winkelman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As always, Marilyn Todd provides plenty of entertainment, with an added bonus of humor mixed with the mystery. Her protagonist Claudia may not be the most believable character for the time and place, but she's fine for today's world of free-thinking women.
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