The Blood of Caesar: A Second Case from the Notebooks of Pliny the Younger

Written by Albert A. Bell jr.
Review by Phyllis T. Smith

I’m a fan of historical mysteries but hadn’t read Albert A. Bell’s work before, and was thrilled to discover this series set in ancient Rome. This novel is extremely hard to put down. An obscure workman is found dead in the building housing the imperial archives. This event should be beneath Emperor Domitian’s notice, but he assigns Pliny the Younger to investigate. As Pliny unravels the mystery, he uncovers the possibility that a blood heir of Augustus Caesar may still be alive. This knowledge is dangerous to the well-being of the emperor and the stability of Rome, and the closer Pliny comes to the truth, the more perilous his own situation becomes. Will he be murdered for knowing too much?

The historical setting is vividly rendered. One senses the author’s deep knowledge of the period. Historical figures, including some very interesting women, come alive. Pliny emerges as a believable character, a man at home in his own time. The mystery plot is expertly crafted, and the truly frightening climax left me eager to read more books in this series.