Monday, January 28, 2013

Book Review: SEMPER FIDELIS by Ruth Downie

Title: Semper Fidelis
Series: Gaius Petreius Ruso, #5
Author: Ruth Downie
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Format: Hardback
Source: Publisher
Genre: Historical Mystery, Ancient Rome

Back at his post as a doctor in the Twentieth legion in Roman-occupied Britain, Ruso uncovers a new danger even closer to home than the neighboring barbarians. As mysterious injuries, and even deaths, begin to appear in the medical ledgers, it's clear that all is not well amongst the native recruits to Britannia's imperial army. Is the much- decorated Centurion Geminus preying on his weaker soldiers? And could this be related to the appearance of Emperor Hadrian? Bound by his sense of duty and ill-advised curiosity, Ruso begins to ask questions nobody wants to hear. Meanwhile his barbarian wife, Tilla, is finding out some of the answers-and marked as a security risk by the very officers Ruso is interrogating. With Hadrian's visit looming large, the fates of the legion, Tilla, and Ruso himself hang in the balance.

Review: Ruth Downie’s Semper Fidelis entwines the reader into a Roman Empire mystery filled with political intrigue.

Ruso thinks being a doctor with the Twentieth legion in Roman-occupied Britain would be a good change from his investigator days. But no matter where he goes, mystery follows. A slew of injuries and deaths have the legion feeling as if it is cursed. Ruso just can’t believe it, so he investigates against orders. While his wife Tilla does the same, the two are caught in a web of lies. As Emperor Hadrian’s visit looms, Ruso must solve the case before all is lost.

Semper Fidelis ensnared me from the very beginning. As a Classics major, this novel took me back to my university roots and made me realize how much I missed reading about Ancient Rome. The setting and historical research involved drew me into the past. The characters are well-written with their own flaws and strengths. Even though the fifth book in the series, I had no problems diving right in. My favorite character would have to be Tilla. She’s spunky and doesn’t know how to take “no” for an answer. The mystery is fast-paced and kept me guessing to the very end. I also loved the political intrigue and how the mystery is much deeper than a normal whodunit.

I would highly recommend Ruth Downie’s Semper Fidelis to historical mystery lovers. Now I need to catch up and read the previous books in the series!

Five Bookworms = I loved it!

Other Books in the Series:
Terra Incognita
Persona Non Grata
Caveat Emptor