cover141387-mediumGoodreads blurb: “Sometimes, a snake is just a snake. And sometimes…
First-century Rome.
Senator Gaius Lucius Nerva is taken ill at a dinner party and dies a few days later. His heartbroken wife, Flavia, is told it was a natural death. Calidus, Nerva’s recently freed slave, suspects otherwise.
As he embarks upon the funeral ceremonies, Calidus becomes more and more convinced that his master was murdered and begins an investigation, seeking out everyone who had attended the dinner party.
His enquiries lead him to rub shoulders with the ‘great and good’ of Rome; senators, soldiers, even the ruthless and mercurial Emperor Nero. And his former lover, Julia Eusabia, who seems intent on rekindling their romance and luring him away from his wife and daughter. Calidus’ quest is by no means easy or safe as he encounters the darkest and most dangerous people in Rome. But he knows he must keep searching for the person responsible, to bring justice to the master he had loved.
This racy historical whodunnit brings to life the sights, smells and sounds of ancient Rome, with sharp humour and a Christie-style finale to boot.”

My Review

I do enjoy reading historical fiction and Ancient Rome is always a fascinating period of time to set a book, particularly a murder mystery.  Having enjoyed listening to the Lindsey Davis’ ‘Falco’ series on the radio for years, also set in Ancient Rome, I had high hopes for this story.

There were all the elements of a great mystery:  the mysterious death of a notable Roman Senator, the upstanding former slave who wants justice for his dead master, the nobles who saw him last and really don’t want to be troubled by this freedman and don’t forget the salacious Nero, the most notorious Roman emperor.

The descriptions of the city were brilliant, I certainly felt like I could have been walking the streets and sitting in the arena whilst I was reading. There were a few wonderfully described scenes involving gladiators, a hunt with wolves and Nero’s triumphant entrance with elephants.

I liked Caldius the freedman but didn’t feel like I got to know him, unlike Nero and his mother the Augusta, the only characters who really jumped off the page to me.

As the blurb says it was a ‘racy whodunnit’ constantly reminding me of the Carry On films and particularly Carry on Cleo.

I’m so glad that I read this as a buddy read with Yvo@It’s all About Books as I’m not sure I would’ve enjoyed reading it by myself, especially as there were formatting problems with my arc.

Thanks to NetGalley and Endeavour Media for my digital ARC.