Ruso and the River of Darkness

Written by Ruth Downie
Review by Phyllis T. Smith

The fourth novel in a series of historical mysteries set in the second century A.D., Caveat Emptor takes place in Roman Britain. The hero of the series, physician Gaius Petreius Ruso, is recently married. Seeking only a peaceful life, he becomes embroiled in the search for a tax collector who has gone missing, and then the plot thickens. Ruso is a good-hearted man but not extraordinarily brave. But though the situation becomes increasingly treacherous he is unable to extricate himself, and the suspense mounts.

The background and historical detail seem authentic. There is a good deal of dry humor. The characters are vividly drawn, though some of them may strike the reader as a bit too modern in outlook. The dialogue often has a contemporary flavor which personally I found jarring. All and all, I often had a difficult time believing I was in Roman Britain, but I still enjoyed the story.