Murder In The Forum – Rosemary Rowe

This is the third book in the Libertus Series, or as the author herself seems to call them, the Roman Whodunnits.

Libertus is a freedman and mosaicist living in Roman occupied Britain during the time of Commodus. His patron, Marcus Septimus is one of the Governor’s right-hand men and therefore very powerful and often at the centre of political and social events. In this case it is the arrival of a favourite of Commodus’ from Rome, the cruel and ruthless Perennis Felix.

Felix arrives with the intent of marrying his daughter off to Marcus Septimus in a political move designed to hedge his bets on the possibility of an overthrow of Commodus by the British Legions. He arrives in pomp and circumstance at Glevum, and like all good political gameplayers the local Roman dignitaries quickly produce a feast for his arrival.
But the feast ends suddenly when Felix appears to choke on a nut and die.

Naturally this could be political suicide should the Emperor Commodus feel that things were not done correctly by Felix, so Libertus at Marcus’ instruction begins to look into the possibility of foul play.

This is a very nicely written and paced book. The author cleverly hides things in plain view and turns the plot a few times to keep you guessing about the ending. And in the end, it turns one more time and ties things up neatly.
The writing evokes aspects of society in Roman Britain such as the difference between the lifestyles of the Roman Citizens and the local tribesmen who are now farmers and craftsmen, as well as aspects of the social hierarchy in Roman society.

If you like simple, but well written murder-mysteries, then you should consider adding this series to your reading list.

This rates a 3 out of 5 for me.

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