SPQR VI: Nobody Loves a Centurion
This is the sixth entry in one of my favorite mystery series, starring Decius Metellus the Younger. Set in 696 A.D. in Gaul, during what would later be immortalized by Julius Caesar in his Gallic Wars, Decius arrives from Rome at the war’s stalled front lines, seeking to avoid his enemy at home but finding enemies enough in Caesar’s camps. One such enemy is Vinius, Caesar’s foremost centurion, a cruel, vicious man who is universally disliked and feared.
Naturally, Vinius is murdered. Naturally, Vinius’s own men, one of whom is Decius’s client, are suspected of the deed and await execution. Decius, however, isn’t convinced, and Caesar charges him with finding the culprit. Even though there is little love lost between these political adversaries, Decius must find the real murderer quickly in order to prevent Caesar’s men from mutiny as dissatisfaction grows among the troops. Although I didn’t find this book as light and enjoyable as the previous five, we are given a provocative account of what it was like fighting on foreign soil in the midst of barbarian tribes.