No two persons ever read the same book. --Edmund Wilson

Sunday, December 25, 2016

2016/74: Medicus -- Ruth Downie

Ruso closed his eyes briefly and dreamed of a world where women stayed quietly at home and sewed things and understood the value of Modesty and Obedience–not to mention Not Turning Up Dead Under Suspicious Circumstances. When he opened them again, he was still in Britannia.[loc. 2317]

Gaius Petreius Ruso has family obligations, debts, an ex-wife about whom he's still bitter, and a new posting as an army doctor at the fort of Deva, in north-west Britannia.

He's hoping that his move to Britain will signal a change in his fortune: and so it does, though perhaps not quite in the way he hopes. Rescuing an injured slave-girl, Tilla, from her abusive owner is the first step on a path that leads Ruso to investigate a number of deaths in, or connected to, the local brothel. (Also a nasty case of food poisoning.)

I didn't enjoy this as much as I'd hoped: I didn't especially like any of the characters (though Tilla and Chloe have potential), and wasn't entirely convinced by the changing relationship between Ruso and Tilla. Medicus does explore the less-heroic aspects of colonial Roman life, and there are some interesting interactions between Romans and locals. And it's well-written. But for all its merits as a historical novel, I just wasn't in the mood to enjoy reading a story about multiple women being murdered.

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