SPQR Vlll: The River God’s Vengeance

Written by John Maddox Roberts
Review by Ilysa Magnus

Decius Metullus is at it again. He is swiftly climbing the political ladder in Rome, thanks much to his family’s name and probably equally to his own talent in solving mysteries that seem to fall, one after another, in his lap.

Now an aedile, Decius’s responsibility to the Senate and People of Rome is to keep their buildings in one piece, their sewers flowing without refuse and their gladiatorial games exciting. He is called to the collapse of a fairly new tenement where many have perished. Not content to write off the collapse as “one of those things” and return to the planning of the games which may mark his aedileship more than his good citizenry, Decius finds himself at the center of an inquiry focusing on greedy landlords using shoddy building materials.

Maddox Roberts has taken the light-hearted, tongue-in-cheek Decius and turned him into a more mature, concerned, thoughtful Roman citizen. He takes his political power and his job seriously. There are lots of things wrong in Rome in the year 701 of the Republic, and Decius wants to address those things during his tenure. He is sickened by the greed he sees around him, even in his own family. He is no longer quite as smart-alecky as he was in previous installments, but is more perspicacious and persevering. I like this guy and I enjoyed this book.