Danger in the Wind
This fourth Aurelia Marcella mystery set in Roman Britain opens with a birthday invitation sent to the innkeeper sleuth from her cousin with an alarming postscript, “Please help, Aurelia. There’s danger in the wind, and I fear the Greeks even when they bring gifts.” A murdered soldier at the inn adds trouble. Her twin, Lucius, forbids her going to Isurium to assist, but the strong-willed Aurelia ignores him and soon goes into the heart of danger, bringing along, to her disgust, her brother’s naive sweetheart, Vitellia. With alarming speed, Aurelia’s hopes wither that the danger is a figment of her melodramatic cousin’s imagination.
Finnis has found an excellent, historically accurate context for her determined female heroine. Close to her brother and in love with Quintus, both imperial investigators, Aurelia has the male connections to make her inquiries believable. Finnis provides the details to bring Roman Britain alive without slowing her engaging plot. She’s skilled at developing villains who combine endearing and despicable qualities to make solving the mystery a rich delight. She adds resonance by showing the growth of spoiled young ladies into likeable strong women.