This is the second book in a series featuring Gordianus “the Finder”, a Roman citizen during the period of the Republic, who makes a living as a private detective. In this episode, which takes place some years after the events of the first book in the series, [b:Roman Blood|102720|Roman Blood (Roma Sub Rosa, #1)|Steven Saylor|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1312011787s/102720.jpg|2569207], Gordianus is engaged to discover whether the murderer of Marcus Crassus’ cousin is someone other than household slaves suspected of having joined Spartacus in his revolt.
Saylor makes use of his Classics degree to write an engaging novel, with an interesting combination of real-life and fictional characters and a pleasing prose style. The imparting of historical information – an important feature of both this novel and its predecessor in the series - is achieved with a light hand. I know almost nothing about Roman history, but I was able to acquire pertinent facts without feeling either confused or patronised. That said, the mystery itself is only moderately interesting, even though it contains the usual quotient of suspects and red herrings. For a “finder”, Gordianus does relatively little finding. Indeed, he spends more time being beaten up or otherwise assaulted than he does solving the crime.
Overall, this was a pleasant excursion into historical mystery fiction, made all the more pleasant by (a) reading some of the novel while I was in Rome and (b) sharing the experience with my friend Jemidar. I will definitely want to read the next book in the series at some point.