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on 30 April 2002
The second book in the SPQR series, and worthy follow-up to The King's Gambit. Decius Caecilius Metellus the Younger embarks on another adventure, becoming embroiled in Catilina's conspiracy against the Republic and Cicero (a very different take to Steven Saylor's in his book Catilina's Riddle). The Greek physician Asklepoides appears again, playing a crucial role in the events. The results are gripping.
If you are an avid reader of Roman historical mysteries, then this book is a must. It contains a dry humour that is often lacking in Steven Saylor, but the historical importance of event that Linsday Davis and Marilyn Todd miss out on. Seen from the perspective of a Roman from a well-to-do family, there is the extra social interest remarked upon by Decius throughout, as well as the obvious political commentary.
The story is self-contained and set a while after the last book, so it stands on its own very well. There is no need to have read the first book before this one, although it is good to get a sense of the political chronology. All-in-all, it is very highly recommended.
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Marvellous Roman Historical Detective Fiction

This is a wonderful read and is one of those rare books that deserves a second read.

I can whole heartedly recommend it to a reader.
Do you have to read the previous one to understand and enjoy this, the second?
No. ......I didn't I hope this has cleared a few puzzles for people.
Maddox Roberts is a great writer. His book plots run like the proverbial runaway train. The reader jumps on board and is swept away by superb story telling. Along the way the author weaves in really interesting aspects of Roman Life circa 70BCish. This is excellent. If you love Steven Saylor or Linsey Davis you should love the hero of this book Decius Caecilius Metellus the Younger.
Not as dry nor as deep navel contemplating as Saylor's Gordiannus the finder and certainly not as 'Detective lite' 'chav city Roman' as Davis' Falco, Decius Caecilius Metellus the Younger is in that wonderful position of being between the two and in my eye as good as Saylor's creation. Praise indeed. It is that good.
One chapter alone deals with the Roman 'October Horse'. Briefly stallions are selected by lot and there's a race but dear reader this is Rome circa 66BC. At the race end the horse is sacrificed and its head cut off and...
tossed to the runners to try and spirit the 30lbs head back to their suburb.. True Roman gore and so satisfying a read and its not even the main story. Sheer class.
In each of his books Roberts introduces many 'I didn't know that' situations BUT don't let that fool you into believing they are mere history lessons, no each is a brilliant historical 'whodunnit' or maybe why they dunnit'

I won't go into the plot. My fellow reviews have already and ably done that.

Buy this book you will want to read the whole series and I really envy you on that journey.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 21 February 2007
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.

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.

It had been one of the best summer's in the long history of the might that was the Roman Republic. Her legions had, as they always did swept all before them. Rome's enemies were either on their knees in supplication or their bones had been ground into the dust. But in Rome itself there was great unrest. The streets ran red with the blood of Rome's own citizen's. Decius Caecilius Metellus the younger was convinced that there was a conspiracy afoot to overthrow the senate. A sinister group who would stop at nothing to achieve their own ends. A group that could only be infiltrated from within. But admission into this group of people carried a grim price. The life of Decius's closest friend and possibly his own as well.
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on 26 July 2010
Now that I have discovered Decius and his adventures, I am going through the whole series. Compulsive!
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