Thursday, December 10, 2009

63. MEDICUS - Ruth Downie

Based in second century Deva (a town in Britannia, or England), this first book in a series by new author, Ruth Downie, is a fun, quickie read for lovers of early British history (like me) and mysteries (like most of readers).

The new "medicus" for the Roman fort in Deva named Gaius Ruso has lost his father, his wife, and a lot of money in trying to repay debts on his family farm. Now, he is mystified by the loss of two women who were - ahem - "employees" at the local brothel. Although no one in the town seems to care about the dead women, or the questions by Ruso, he continues to examine the case, collecting a slave (accidentally) and a new commanding officer in the process.

Ruso could be a Roman Dr. House without the drug addiction. He is a bit irritable, yet his sarcasm and dry wit create an interesting character. The scenes with the dialogue between Ruso and his friend/competitor/fellow medicus, Valens, have been noted by other reviewers as reminiscent of Trapper John in M.A.S.H. I simply found them charming.

Personally, I will like this book much more than others because it contains information about the dwindling Briton tribes of the time, such as the Brigantes. After writing about these mythical times in ancient Britain, it is reassuring to see familiar names and symbols.

However, many will approve of the mystery, though it is rather predictable. The characters definitely carry the book on their shoulders, and I look forward to reading her future work.

3.0 out of 5.0 Roman Riots.


Mari said...

I am reading your blog for the first time and will follow - We have similar book tastes. Have you read Wolf Hall? I have a copy waiting for me to read (hopefully over winter break).

I will have to add this book to my list!

Kristin Dodge said...

Hi Mari, and welcome! I think Wolf Hall is number 60, if you'd like my take on it.

Kristin Dodge said...

Hi Mari, and welcome! I think Wolf Hall is number 60, if you'd like my take on it.

ruthdownie said...

Thanks, Kristin! I'm delighted that Ruso managed to sneak in at the end of the blur of historical novels.

Great idea for a blog, by the way - and 150 books in a year is seriously impressive.