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33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A thrilling episode in Rome's Sleuthing Young Senator, 11 May 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Spqr IV: the Temple of the Muses (Paperback)
After solving the mystery of the Sacrilege in Ceasar's House and with the political implications of his actions, trying to reveal the plot to subvert the senile Roman Republic by the most powerful persons of the era, Decius Caecilius Metellus junior leaves the premises of the Capital, in a "rehabilitating" embassy to the court of Rome's protegee king Ptolaemaeus of Egypt,as companion to his Senior relative Cointus Caecilius Metellus "the Cretan". A seemingly easy mission to allow him to be forgotten and safe by his dedicated and annoyed ennemies, brings the young sleuthing senator to the port of The Ptolaemean Alexandreia. The majestic description of one of the most flamboyant and grand cities of that era comes alive in front of the reader's eyes, under the quill skills and excellent historic knowledge of John Maddox Roberts. The Great Library and the Museum with the great philosophers and scientists of the era is the theatre of his first social visit, due to the interest of his betrothed Julia,niece of Ceasar, in a surprise trip to Alexandreia, and her interest of the scientific research and theory. But the young senator's fate brings him again to the entangled paths of a murderous conspiracy. Mathematician Iphicrates from Chios, one of the last pupils of Archimedes is found murdered in the Museum during a symposium. Again the natural eagerness of Metellus brings him to the dangerous tracks of the conspirators. What is the involment of 10 year old Cleopatra's older sister Verenice in it? What brings in the plot the Parthian Ambassador and an Athenean Haetera? Lots of sub plots fitting like jigsaw puzzles and the help of Julia and the Greek doctor Asclepiades mortuary skills will be enough for the Sleuthing Senator to solve the mystery of the murder and beneath it? Once more John Maddox Roberts gives us an exceptional description of an historic era even if some people may have slight objections about the "subjective" views he presents in Metellus's comments. Combined with a mystery plot and a way of writing that doesn't allow the reader to get outtracked by the vast amounts of historical data he presents and that added to the normal "predictability" of a series of mystery solving novels with a central hero... just as Roberts has proved in his previous books he can easily overcome this and provide us with the thrill of the unexpected. At the end of the book the reader will find himself delighted by a very compact and well written thriller and a lot of historical knowledge he couldn't have absorbed so easily from a school book. Just read enjoy and grab the next in the series.!!!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sparkles like the glint in Cleopatra's eye., 6 Aug 2010
By 
Glenn Cook (South Cave, near Hull UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Spqr IV: the Temple of the Muses (Paperback)
This is a brilliant read. I devoured this book in 2 days it is that easy to read and really grabs the attention. Not a moment is wasted in plot, episodes, action and the setting
I consider myself to be well read in the Roman Sleuths series (Falco, Gordianus et al) and I can honestly say I learned a lot about 'Eygpt at the time of Ceaser's rise.
What makes this refreshing is that the author contains all the action within Alexandria a modern 'planned' city near the Nile Delta.
Maddox Roberts has done a brilliant work and I really enjoyed exploring Alexandra through a 'Subura' saturated Roman's eyes. (Read the book you will know what I mean)
If anything Alexandra is the star of the book. A nice murder is committed, investigate and solved all within a very enjoyable romp through decadent Alexandrian Society.
I really learned a lot about the Museum. I'd no idea where the term came from and Maddox Roberts not only entertains his reader but educates all in a really enjoyable style.# Cleopatra the 7th is met aged 10 and a hint of a return meeting is oh so tantalizingly hinted. (Can't wait)
Why 5 stars? well to be honest he left me with wanting more so 4 and a half would be nearer the mark?
I enjoyed the book so much I would have gladly have enjoyed another 100 pages of exploring Alexandrian life and Society or maybe.. just maybe Maddox Roberts has left the reader with that all to rare event finishing a book with regret that a magnificent story is over rather than the relief one feels after plowing through weightier tomes??
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5.0 out of 5 stars Out of Rome for a change, 21 April 2011
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This review is from: Spqr IV: the Temple of the Muses (Paperback)
This is book 4 in the SPQR series. It is highly recommended that you read the first three first (starting with "The King's Gambit"). Especially, you should have read book 3 "The Sacrilege", in order to truly appreciate the events in this one.

This time, the protagonist Decius is in Alexandria, the capital of Egypt, as a member of a diplomatic mission lead by Metellus Creticus. There are stunning descriptions of Alexandria and the life in the royal palace. Mostly, though, the book is about Decius sticking his nose, for even more trivial reasons than usually, into affairs that are none of his business, and ending up uncovering something huge, as usual.

Absurdly, the book contains a map of Rome, although none of the events take place in Rome. It's all set in Alexandria, but there is no map of Alexandria. I had a tough time finding one on the Internet that contained at least a significant part of the locations discussed in the book.

When I read this book for the first time, I liked it much more than the volumes 2 and 3. After I had re-read it a while ago, though, I found myself disgusted by the protagonist's submissive, cowardly attitude towards women - much more so than in the previous books. I just can't understand how can such an extraordinary and likeable man be such a doormat to women. Mr. Roberts has the admirable ability to bring Ancient Rome so remarkably alive for us. Why is he so unable to realise that the relations between men and women back then were not like they were in the USA in 1950's?

All in all, I'm swaying between 4 and 5 stars.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Another good read, 2 Nov 2010
This review is from: Spqr IV: the Temple of the Muses (Paperback)
I purchased this book in paperback form one of Amazon's agents, but it arrived about four days after ordering, in pristine condition and it was reasonably priced. If I had bought it direct from Amazon, p&p would not have cost anything (a super sver item) but the list price was sufficiently higher to make it worthwhile ordering from the book depository, and paying p&p.
The story is one of a series written by John Maddox Roberts about an amateur detective by name Decius Caecilius Metellus the Younger. It is set in Alexandria, making a change from Rome, and follows the by now usual patttern of a murder, followed by discovery of a plot of a a political coup. Our hero follows the usual adventures in escaping from the villains, uncovering everything, finally followed by being declared png and being sent into exile.
A good read !
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fourth in the Series, 26 Feb 2007
By 
J. Chippindale (England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Spqr IV: the Temple of the Muses (Paperback)
John Maddox Roberts is the pseudonym of Mark Ramsay, author of numerous works of science fiction and fantasy, in addition to his successful historical SPQR mystery series. He lives in New Mexico with his wife.

Once again our hero, Decius Caecilius Metellus the Younger is drawn into a web of deceit and intrigue, but this time outside the confines of his beloved Rome. Decius is given the chance to join a delegation that are on a diplomatic mission to Alexandria and he sees it as an ideal opportunity to escape the attention of his growing number of enemies in Rome.

Decius is just beginning to enjoy his visit to Egypt, with all of its exotic pleasures, when a suspicious death of a philosopher occurs, coinciding with the ravings of a charismatic cult leader. Intrigued by the death, Decius is given permission by the Pharaoh to investigate the crime, but what he eventually discovers shocks even Decius. Our hero has taken many women to his bed, but when the body of a famous courtesan mysteriously turns up in his bed, Decius is less than amused and finds himself embroiled in a conspiracy much more far reaching than he could ever have imagined.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fan of Decius, 26 July 2010
By 
Mary Roll Vallanjon (Luxembourg) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Spqr IV: the Temple of the Muses (Paperback)
Being already fairly knowledgeable of Roman history and modern Rome too, this is just the series for me!
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Spqr IV: the Temple of the Muses
Spqr IV: the Temple of the Muses by John Maddox Roberts (Paperback - 31 Oct 1999)
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