Last Seen in Massilia
This seventh installment of the Roma Sub Rosa series finds Gordianus the Finder bound for Massilia, an independent city-state under siege by Caesar’s troops. It is in Massilia that Gordianus’ son Meto was last seen – after purportedly turning traitor to Caesar’s cause. Gordianus and his son-in-law Davus must find their way into the besieged city to learn Meto’s true fate, all while avoiding Caesar’s soldiers, negotiating the sticky politics of Massilia, and investigating a strange murder to which they are the only witnesses.
Though Steven Saylor’s well-loved Roman detective is now past 60, this book has all the vigor of the earlier titles in the series. Saylor once again proves a competent guide to the Roman world; readers will learn about the politics of the late republic, of course, but also about siege warfare, ancient engineering, and provincial social customs. The (quite literal) unveiling at the end caught me pleasantly off-guard, adding one more twist just when I thought that all had been revealed. The only sour note was the uncharacteristically spiteful – dare I say petty? – decision made by Gordianus at the conclusion of the book. I will be anxious to see the repercussions of this choice in the next novel.