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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Reader Beware
Beware, this book has also been published under the title Medicus and Medicus and the Disappearing Dancing Girls. If you have not read it under either of these titles it is an enjoyable read, in the same vein as the Lindsey Davis or Steven Saylor books. I bought this particular title expecting it to be a new story, but sadly it is the same as the ones above...
Published on 23 Dec 2007 by J. Chippindale

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Something missing
It's hard for a book to have inevitable comparisons to a longstanding series. Of course the majority of readers will have read Lindsey Davis, and of course they're looking for another author on whom to lavish the same love.

First, the good stuff. It's well-crafted, with a nice mix of crime story in Roman Britain and hints of trouble back home in Italy(sorry,...
Published on 5 Nov 2011 by Fiona Wallace


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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Reader Beware, 23 Dec 2007
By 
J. Chippindale (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Ruso and the Disappearing Dancing Girls (Medicus Investigations 1) (Paperback)
Beware, this book has also been published under the title Medicus and Medicus and the Disappearing Dancing Girls. If you have not read it under either of these titles it is an enjoyable read, in the same vein as the Lindsey Davis or Steven Saylor books. I bought this particular title expecting it to be a new story, but sadly it is the same as the ones above.

This is the first book in what will become the Medicus series. It is a novel set in Roman Britain and introduces a new author R. S. Downie. This is certainly her first novel, although I do not know if she has written any factual material. The fact that she is female may be an omen, after all Lindsey Davis writes what is probably the most successful Roman series with her `Falco' detective novels.

The main character in this novel and the one I am sure will become an old friend to the reader in future books is Gaius Petreius Ruso, a divorced and down-on-his-luck army doctor, who has made the rash decision of attempting to make his fortune in one of the far flung reaches of the Empire, namely Britain.

A doctor's life is not always a happy one, particularly when they are usually watching you and screaming while you take their arm off or pull their blackened teeth out. A swift tap on the head usually alleviates these problems, but is not looked upon as good medical practice.

After arriving in Diva, modern day Chester and spending hours on the wards in the fort, by some stroke of fortune or maybe misfortune he rescues an injured slave girl, Tilla. She is a pretty little thing, but brings a whole boatload of trouble with her. Not least the locals taking umbrage and starting to beat the sh-- out of one another.

As I've said before anything about Rome or Romans is a must read for me, but this book is for everybody, well researched, witty and most of all enjoyable. I can't wait to read more of Ruso and Tilla. I am sure the partnership will mature and become as enjoyable to the reader as Falco and Helena or Gordianus and Bethesda.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An engrossing read, 19 Jan 2012
This review is from: Ruso and the Disappearing Dancing Girls (Medicus Investigations 1) (Paperback)
I bought this to read, not because of the investigative/whodunnit side, but because of the Roman legion aspect. I'm not much of a crime or thriller reader, so I wasn't sure what to expect.

What I discovered was that the first Ruso novel is far from a tense, dry, fuddling story. It is more the story of the man, Ruso, and the events that surround him, the array of interesting and bizarre folk that serve alongside. The plot at tantimes seemed almost incidental to me, though that detracted nothing from the book. From about page 3 I was absorbed.

The whole tale is told with a constant, quirky humour that serves to make the whole situation and background more human. Indeed, it is the very humour that defines much of the protagonist's character.

In short, I loved the book far more than I could ever hope and just cannot wait to see what messes our fave medicus can get involved with next.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Something missing, 5 Nov 2011
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It's hard for a book to have inevitable comparisons to a longstanding series. Of course the majority of readers will have read Lindsey Davis, and of course they're looking for another author on whom to lavish the same love.

First, the good stuff. It's well-crafted, with a nice mix of crime story in Roman Britain and hints of trouble back home in Italy(sorry, can't remember exactly where the family were from; 'Italy' will have to do). The background feels well-researched and the characters real.

Where it falls down, I feel, firstly is the pacing - there is little sense of discovery, of alarming setback; the plot meanders along for the majority of the book, with us (and the maudlin, humourless protagonist) learning little about the murders until it all comes to a conclusion in a rush of new facts and excitement in the last couple of chapters. Secondly, there was no real opportunity to feel for the murdered women. They were just plot devices, dead before the story begins. The female characters were either unpleasant or depressingly passive. For those who would fall back on the excuse of a patriarchal society, I would point out that Lindsey Davis has done a sterling job of developing strong, intelligent women within the constraints of Roman society. Thirdly, and most distressingly, the only way I could see the ending as real was in a bizarre form of Stockholm syndrome. For me it felt hugely contrived. I'd like to say more but it would involve too many spoilers.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Good Hoilday Read, 22 Sep 2007
By 
C. Harris "Italophile bookworm" (Herts, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Ruso and the Disappearing Dancing Girls (Medicus Investigations 1) (Paperback)
I am a great fan of Lindsey Davis' "Falco" and also Steven Saylor's "Gordianus". The very cover of this book screams "Falco knockoff" at the reader and as I've always resisted the "me-tooers" of this genre in the past I nearly didn't even pick it up : Don't be put off, Ruso the Medicus is in a very different environment and his role as reluctant criminologist and slave owner taken on reluctantly to add to his already full store of woes. Luck certainly seems to give our hero a pretty wide berth for much of the time. His colleague Valens is the one with an apparently easily appeased conscience and a sense of humour while our hero just never learns that drinking in dubious bars is bound to lead to trouble (trying to help spirited locals doubly so).
I hope Ruso will have new cases to solve - perhaps he might even visit his family in Gaul- meanwhile if readers are looking for a good read for a holiday or long journey I recommend this book as a very enjoyable companion.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ruso and the Disappearing Dancing Girls, 17 May 2014
By 
S Riaz "S Riaz" (England) - See all my reviews
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Gaius Petreius Ruso has recently arrived in a cold and rainy Britannia. He is recently divorced and has suffered bad news about the death of his father, which has left him with a great deal of debt and an extended family to support. However, despite his new good intentions to obtain promotion and, hopefully, some wealthy paying patients, things do not seem to be starting well. Although he has pledged to live frugally, he somehow ends up buying a young slave girl, whose arm is badly injured and who is being brutally mistreated. As he is staying with his friend, and fellow doctor, Valens, this leaves him with a problem of where she can sleep and, eventually, he opts for the rather dubious location of Merula’s – a bar which seems to have rather carelessly lost two of its dancing girls, one of whom was recently hauled out of the river. To add to his problems, Ruso ends up making an enemy of the rather pedantic hospital administrator Optio Priscus and be rumoured to be investigating the death of Saufeia, even though he doesn’t really want to be involved.

This is the first mystery in the series and there is a lot of introducing the characters and setting. Ruso is a likeable enough lead character, who tries his best to make things right. It is fair to say that the authorities are not particularly eager, or worried, about the death of two dancing girls – but Ruso feels there is more to the mystery than he first realised. Why did one of the dancing girls run off, when she was supposedly in love with a soldier at the garrison? Why was another, surprisingly able to read and write, suggesting that she would not be there long before going missing and what is making certain customers at Merula’s ill? Ruso attempts to discover the truth, even without really wanting to, while trying to care for the unwilling new acquisition to his household, the beautiful young Tilla, stave off debt and try to get some sleep in between tending to patients.

Overall, this was an interesting mystery, although too much of the book seemed to be about introducing the characters and the storyline was a little slow to get going. Now that the characters of Ruso and Tilla are established, I wonder whether the second novel in the series will be faster paced. I would certainly give the second book a try, as this was a light and enjoyable read. Last note - in the US this book is published as Medicus, so make sure you don't buy the same book twice.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful tale of Deva, dancing girls and the legions, 14 Oct 2011
By 
Ben Kane (Nr Bristol, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Ruso and the Disappearing Dancing Girls (Medicus Investigations 1) (Paperback)
Given that this book is about Rome, or at least Romans in Britain, it is a no-brainer that I would want to read it. However, the reason it has passed me by until now is that it is a crime novel. This genre is not my favourite, it has to be said. I bought a copy in June, however, when I had the good fortune to meet Ruth Downie at the Roman Festival in Chester. I started reading it a few weeks ago, and was instantly engaged and delighted by its central character, the hapless, kind, curious surgeon Ruso.

This is a wonderful and well-written story, full of rich detail of the time. Downie has a deft touch wwhen it comes to writing about personal relationships, humour, tragedy and drama. The pages of this book turned themselves, and I was sorry to reach the end. I enjoyed it thoroughly, and will be moving swiftly on to the next book in the series.

Ben Kane, author of Hannibal: Enemy of Rome.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Ruso and the Disappearing Dancing Girls, 5 Oct 2010
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This review is from: Ruso and the Disappearing Dancing Girls (Medicus Investigations 1) (Paperback)
It just goes to show we all have different tastes, I enjoyed the under-tones of the way Roman society supplanted the culture of the British Tribes. However, the pace was slow, I was tempted to put the book down and not finish it because I began not to care about the characters. I did persevere and finish it, but it was almost a research dump in places. The author obviously knows her period and has done her research, but it interfered with the rate that the story unfolded.
I am sure there are many who will enjoy this, for myself I am sad to say it was a 5 out of 10
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Publishers' comparisons are odious, 24 Aug 2010
This review is from: Ruso and the Disappearing Dancing Girls (Medicus Investigations 1) (Paperback)
My recently bought second-hand copy of this novel invited me to ask for my money back if I didn't think it was as good as Lindsey Davis; unfortunately the offer ran out in January 2008. However it's an enjoyable enough read, and the next two in the series are better all round. This one felt a bit slow to get started and hesitant, and the main character wasn't yet fully developed. So, not as good as Lindsey Davis but improving as the series goes on.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Nothing New, 10 Nov 2009
By 
Miran Ali "I don't like anonymous reviewers" (Dhaka, Bangladesh) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Ruso and the Disappearing Dancing Girls (Medicus Investigations 1) (Paperback)
As the other reviewers have rightly pointed out, although at first it may appear to be a Falco ripoff, it isn't.

Mostly because now we're in England. Falco's useless father's alive; Ruso's is dead. Falco fell in love with the tough daughter of an aristocrat; Ruso with a tough slave.

That just about seems all that I can add to this.

A perfectly enjoyable little mystery good for reading on a boring flight, when you can't concentrate on anything better.

The ancient Rome mystery genre is already overcrowded with too many offerings. This one adds nothing new.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fine start of a new serie, 23 Oct 2009
By 
Stefan Vunckx "stefanv" (Antwerp, Belgium) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Ruso and the Disappearing Dancing Girls (Medicus Investigations 1) (Paperback)
I picked up this book because the links everybody makes to Lindsey Davis' and Steven Saylor's books. And after reading it, I can say that, yes this book is very much like the Falco or the Gordianus books. But on the other hand, it also serves its unique style right from the first page, so it will never feel as if you're reading a Falco/Gordianus book.

The main character is a medicus with some personal problems, who finds himself at the border of the Empire, trying to live up as much as possible to the values that represent (ancient) Rome. To me, the character of Ruso is introduced as it should; giving away enough about his family & past to get you interested, but leaving out enough to make u want more. Some other characters are introduced as well, like his fellow medicus, the administrator he can't get along with or a slave he can't control.

The storyline is interesting enough; not only because of the events happening or the clues discovered, but also because of the way Ruso is in conflict about the investigation. He does his best not to step on any toes by doing things he isn't supposed to, but on the other hand he can't help his curiosity. As a result, you will not get bored. The dialogs and the descriptions are good, but to me, it is Ruso who really steals the show in any description or dialog, especially in the dialogs between him and his slave, Tilla.

In the Falco and Gordianus novels, as in any serie, an important aspect is how the characters evolve, so I am curious how the Ruso serie will evolve. Truth be told, this first novel is already more then a fine start so I hope this is only the beginning of more good to come.
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