Death at Pergamum
Getorius and Arcadia, a surgeon and his medica wife, are travelling to Constantinople to study medical texts. While there, events force them to travel on to Pergamum, where they know there is a shrine and healing centre run by a physician who seems to divide opinion. Not where they want to be, Getorius and Arcadia try to make the most of it, but a death soon causes them to get involved in the early Christian church in more depth than they ever imagined.
This is the third of a series, but the back-story is such that you merely feel that you have been dropped into the lives of these people and accept that they just are. Maybe that lack of knowledge of the first two books causes the journey to Pergamum (almost half of the book) to feel overly lengthy, but as lengthy as that feels, it is intricately described. The Roman Empire is presented as fragmented and decaying and seems to be searching for an identity through one of the many religions practiced in it.
The characters are real and believable, a little naïve at times, declaring something must be so with very little evidence on which to base their beliefs. The supporting cast is broad and varied, and some are quite likeable and fun, people you would want to meet again. For others, you know you really shouldn’t mourn their loss.
I think you will get more from this is if you consider it a study of a journey as well as a murder mystery. Fans of the era will find that there is plenty to learn about the early Christian church and the workings of the late Roman Empire.