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on 3 May 2017
Good
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 5 February 2016
I missed these in my own childhood, but would have loved this sort of series. It's a wonderful first book to a series set in Ancient Rome, always a favourite period for primary students, and involving children solving mysteries and murders.

With Sherlock so popular at the moment, the detective genre should receive a boost, and the fact that this is quite instructive on life in Roman times as well as including a murder and several personable young amateur sleuths is in its favour.

Wealthy Flavia and her new neighbours find dogs killed in their street. Alongside the slave girl she rescues and a mute beggar boy, the quartet set out to find who has killed them and why, and of course, involving themselves in a bigger (and more dangerous) mystery.

I loved the historical detail, about every aspect of life from food and houses to slaves and books. The children are well written and not too eager or unrealistic in their language. The audiobook version I read is well-narrated with a talented actor giving distinct voices to all of the characters.

Great start to a series. I would read more if I were the right age, probably 9-12.
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on 19 June 2002
While one questions the need for yet another Roman detective, this book is an interesting variant from the growing range of adult series. There's none of the increasingly painful tongue-in-cheekness that is so much a feature of much of this oeuvre. Instead we get a refreshingly straight narrative voice that describes Ostia in tangible terms and Lawrence simply gets on with telling the tale. And she's good at it. I found this book to be a real page turner, thanks to the obvious (but still effective) use of cliff-hanger chapter endings (which I'm fond of in my own writing). The characters are a little flat at times and the identity of the villain was never much of a secret. But that's no great problem, since most detective novels suffer from the same measure of predictability.
Having finished this I have tried to buy the others from my local bookstores, but it seems the print runs are quite small. So, once this is written I'll just have to use Amazon!
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on 18 November 2001
Having collected and read all of Lindsey Davis and Stephen Saylor, I've wondered if there were comparably well written books for younger mystery fans and classics students. I think this first book by Ms. Lawrence fits the bill. Well researched and well paced, the 'Thieves of Ostia' has enjoyable characters and a good puzzle. Several serious themes are brought out, such as the purchase of a slave, and the treatment of Christians, which the author says will be directly addressed in the series and not glossed over (there is a website with a discussion forum available in which the author replies to questions and asks for feedback). This is a welcome attitude to learning about the realities of Rome while actually enjoying a well written story.
I've recommended and loaned this book to Latin teachers in our area (I don't think I'll ever see my book in one piece again), and I would have welcomed having this when I was starting Latin.
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on 15 May 2001
Caroline Lawrence takes one young girl, exciting times we all think we know about, adds three friends all as different as our own, and involves them and us in danger, intrigue, family and laughter. She shows us things we never knew about the Roman empire, and makes us all think about the beginnings of our 'civilised' times. Flavia and her friends live in exciting times, but just like the rest of us now, they don't know it, it's just life to them. Their ways of dealing with it are not so different from our own, but with a twist. Read this book and you'll see what I mean!
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on 18 May 2001
I like this book`s mystery because it was realistic, intriging, and hard to find out who the culprit was. The children in this book solved the mystery, one of whom, named Jonathan, is my favorite character because he is smart and I can relate to him because we are about the same age. I liked this book and I think other kids my age would like it,too.
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on 27 November 2006
We read this book as part of our Year 7 project. It has been set in the year 79 AD in Ostia, Rome. You really get the impression that Caroline Lawrence has actually been to Ostia because she describes the city as it actually is, including the names of roads and buildings. The four main characters represent the usual child detective stereotypes but they work well together. There is a twist at the end which i did not predict. Caroline Lawrence is really cool...she came to our school and spoke all about her book as well as signing copies for us.
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on 26 November 2004
The Thieves of Ostia is all about Flavia and her friends who get involved in a mystery set in the Roman port of Ostia in the year 79 AD. Two dogs are killed and their heads are taken away.No one knows who killed the dogs or why.Flavia meets new friends in different ways; she buys a slave named Nubia because she feels sorry for her and a boy named Jonathan saves her from a pack of wild dogs. Last but not least, the trio of friends save a mute begger boy named Lupus.
During their adventures they are chased by slave dealers, go all around the streets of Ostia and much more with a cliff hanger at the end of every chapter. They learn how to become a Christian and we learn how hard it was to become Christian in those days. We also learn how Romans lived such as how they dressed and ate. We even learn how they used the different rooms in their houses.
I loved the Thieves of Ostia there wasn't one bit I didn't like.
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on 4 June 2001
This is a very good book because it keeps you in suspense which makes you want to read more. There were some really scarey bits which made me unable to sleep at night. You don't suspect who the actual killer is in this story. This is a "You've got to read twice book". Trust me I think anybody will really enjoy this book.
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on 24 February 2003
Caroline Lawrence's debut novel starts the series off with a bang. The four main protagonists (Flavia, Jonathan, Nubia and Lupus) are quickly and expertly introduced as they set about trying to solve the mystery of who is killing dogs in the port of Ostia.
Written for younger readers and with a smoothly flowing prose this book will keep you turning pages long after your fingers have gone numb. There's a very good level of detail and it's clear that Caroline's done plenty of research. Also there's a good dose of Latin thrown in so get your phrase books out!
With cliffhangers, realistic characters and by not pulling any punches when it comes to what the kids really like - gore (did anyone mention a dog's head in a bag?) there's really no reason not to want to discover this series for yourself.
A cracking read!
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