Caveat Emptor: A Novel of the Roman Empire (Novels of the Roman Empire)
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In her fourth novel, Ruth Downie brings to life the corruption and treachery of Roman-occupied Britain, as it closes in on her winsome leading man. Gaius Petreius Ruso and his new wife Tilla have moved to the town of Verulamium, where a tax man named Julius Asper has gone missing, along with a lot of money. As the investigation deepens, and despite our hero's best efforts to get himself fired, he and his bride find themselves trapped at the heart of an increasingly treacherous conspiracy involving theft, forgery, buried treasure, and the legacy of Boudica, the rebel queen.
all day,” he said. This was not strictly true, since his uncle was only two rooms away, but the thought of interrupting him while he was with the doctor was even more terrifying than facing the woman. She said, “All day?” “All day,” he said, wondering how he was supposed to manage if the Britons were all like this, and why no one except his mother had warned him. “If you put your request in writing,” he tried, “I’ll pass it on to the—” “Writing is a waste of time. I must talk to him.” “But
ragged assortment of sounds rose the indomitable rhythms of poetry. He found a dozen or so small boys seated cross-legged beneath a colonnade that, in another time and another place, would be there to protect them from the sun. They were facing an expanse of lime-washed board on which Albanus had painted the lines they were supposed to be reciting. Fluency and volume reached a crescendo as Hercules grabbed a half-human monster so tightly that its eyeballs fell out. Once the violence was over,
cheap wine might be, if this was the medium, when the door of the carriage opened and a servant stepped down followed by the three he had seen just now. The small girl was shifting from foot to foot in a manner that betrayed their purpose. The bartender leaned out and pointed to the left. “Round the back behind the empties, missus.” “Officer’s family?” Ruso speculated as they hurried away. “Just in off the ship, I’ll bet,” observed the barman. “Too frightened to come out and eat with the
money?” And they were the polite ones. The council came around wanting to know where he was and searching the house and then I woke up in the middle of the night with a bunch of drunks outside trying to piss through the window.” Tilla said, “When we got there, people were stealing the furniture.” “I told them to clear off,” Grata said, as if that might have kept everyone out once she had left. “More than once.” “I am sorry for you. But now she is back, your mistress needs you. She has a man to
“Absolutely not,” insisted Ruso. “Good,” said Serena. “There’s no need to worry about the natives down here. You’ll meet the dangerous tribes in the North.” After these words of doubtful comfort, she added, “Have a good journey!” “You’ll be fine,” Ruso assured the woman. “You’re on the main road and you have a good escort.” “But that poor man who was—” “He was a native himself,” said Ruso, knowing that would reassure her. “He was known to be carrying a lot of money and he had no guards with