Hiding From the Past: An Eighth Case from the Notebooks of Pliny the Younger

Written by Albert A. Bell
Review by Linnea Tanner

A murder from the past and an ambush on a hurried trip by Pliny the Younger in 87 CE to join his best friend, Tacitus, intersect in the historical mystery Hiding from the Past. During the assault, Pliny’s slave mistress, Aurora, kills the son of a chieftain who swears vengeance. The journey is further complicated when the friends meet and are stranded in a remote Alpine village, where Pliny and Aurora had visited ten years earlier as teenagers. At the time, they had investigated a mysterious death in the town but were unable to solve it. Beset by an avalanche that may have been deliberately set, Pliny and his companions confront unknown specters, potentially from their past or the present, bent on murdering them.

Author Bell skillfully weaves the back story of a brutal murder into the danger that Pliny and his entourage face. The tale is told from the first-person perspectives of both Pliny and Aurora. Their flashbacks intertwine smoothly into their perilous predicament, culminating in an unexpected, riveting ending. The author sweeps you into the world of Roman-occupied Gaul with engaging characters, natural dialogue, and realistic depictions of ancient lifestyles and scenery. One scene of note takes place at a public latrina (Roman toilets) that was also used as a gathering spot for townspeople to gossip and for nearby vendors to sell their wares. The glossary at the back is an additional bonus providing fascinating details about unfamiliar Latin words and places.

Hiding from the Past is a must read for readers who love historical fiction with elements of mystery, intrigue, and adventure. Highly recommended.