Spqr I: The Kings Gambit (SPQR #01) [ SPQR I: THE KINGS GAMBIT (SPQR #01) BY Roberts, John Maddox ( Author ) Aug-24-2001[ SPQR I: THE KINGS GAMBIT (SPQR #01) [ SPQR I: THE KINGS GAMBIT (SPQR #01) BY ROBERTS, JOHN MADDOX ( AUTHOR ) AUG-24-2001 ] By Roberts, John Maddox ( Author )Aug-24-2001 Paperback Paperback – 24 Aug 2001
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Blackmail, corruption, treachery, murder--the glory that was Rome. In this Edgar Award-nominated mystery, John Maddox Roberts takes readers back to a Rome filled with violence and evil. Vicious gangs ruled the streets of Crassus and Pompey, routinely preying on plebeian and patrician alike, so the garroting of a lowly ex-slaved and the disembowelment of a foreign merchant in the dangerous Subura district seemed of little consequence to the Roman hierarchy. But Decius Caecilius Metellus the Younger--highborn commander of the local "vigiles"--was determined to investigate. Despite official apathy, brazen bribes, and sinister threates, Decius uncovers a world of corruption at the highest levels of his government that threatens to destroy him and the government he serves.
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Top Customer Reviews
Anyone who is a fan of Lindsey Davis, Steven Saylor or David Wishart will love the SPQR series of books by the author. Once again we have an addition to the ever growing number of amateur detectives patrolling the streets of ancient Rome, solving mysteries and crimes. Not all at the same time, I may add, in fact not even in the same centuries. Decius Caecilius Metellus the Younger, a high-born bad boy, is the offering of the author and he is just as interesting, likeable and believable as the leading characters from the author's contemporaries.
The city of Rome is at its lowest ebb for many years. The streets of the city are filled with violence and the vicious gangs are preying on high and low born alike. When a lowly ex-slave is found garrotted and a foreign merchant is disembowelled in the Suburbs district of the city it would normally be of little consequence and quickly forgotten or pushed aside by the powers that be.
But Decius Caecilius Metellus the Younger, the commander of the local vigils station has other ideas and is determined to investigate the matter. Coming from high born stock Metellus has some contacts who may be able to help in the matter, but as he digs deeper he uncovers a festering sore of bribes, threats and corruption, right up to the highest levels of Roman government.
The protagonist is a very junior member of the powerful Caecilius Metellus family. He has a government job of minor importance which involves dealing with crimes. As we learn from the book, murders were not considered such a big deal back then (arson was considered far more heinous), and murderers were rarely discovered and prosecuted. The protagonist Decius, though, turns out to have a unique talent at (as well as interest in) just that. For example, by a flash of inspiration, he lets a physician examine a dead body, hoping that he might be able to tell something about the way the victim was murdered - an idea unheard of in Rome until then.
At first, his investigation is just a routine. Soon, though, the protagonist uncovers something very big and nasty - in fact, something of national importance and larger than he can handle.
What makes this book an extraordinary delight to read, are the extremely life-like, credible characters. It is also interesting to see methods of criminal investigation that are completely different from what we are used to. Rome had a fascinating political system and an almost-rule of law at the time most of the humanity had just recently descended from the trees.
Unfortunately, the plot could be much better. The protagonist keeps acting very irrationally. He learns that something very bad is going to happen, but he succeeds in thwarting it by sending a message to a person in a key position.Read more ›
Metellus is a less engaging character than Steven Saylor's Gordianus, but it's early days yet; furthermore, his status as a young career politian in the early stages of his own progression along the cursus honorum provides access to the big players beyond Cicero (Crassus, Pompey, Caesar) whom Gordianus must observe from sligtly further afar.
Research is not always worn as lightly as it might be, but on the plus side, an unusual and welcome prominence for Milo, in the Dr Watson role.
For what it's worth, the murderer is easily guessed, but the conspiracy behind it is, I think, at least possibly (if not probably) true!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Look forward to reading this novel and the rest of the series however it was a huge disappointment and I won't be buying anymore. Read morePublished on 20 Aug. 2011 by Amazon Customer
This is the first book I've read by this author. I struggled with a slow start, and was initially confused by a lack of sense of direction, but that's ok - we're all different... Read morePublished on 30 July 2011 by greybeard