The Governor’s Man (A Quintus Valerius Mystery)

Written by Jacquie Rogers
Review by Julia Stoneham

When Roman Imperial Investigator Quintus Valerius is despatched to investigate the suspected theft of silver, mined in the southwest of what is now England, he encounters not only the crime and the criminals involved but also an aspect of his own, younger life which has left him emotionally scarred.

Jacquie Rogers opens her novel with an assured gusto which she retains throughout. It begins well enough, and we quickly understand what we are in for. The strong plot is rapidly set up. Locations are vividly described in precise, painstaking detail, and a huge cast of players is introduced, again in great detail. By now the reader is drowning in facts, floundering in descriptive information without enough clarity regarding who, what and where lie clues as to who, what and where the basic narrative line is leading.

Only one character is conceived and presented convincingly. This, of course, is Tiro, the basic British foot soldier, everybody’s hero, whose virtue shines through the ingrained dirt of his appearance. Tiro is wise, brave, shrewd, faithful and perceptive. The other characters, particularly the women, are a tedious bunch of stereotypes with storylines to match. We have the faithfully deferential servants, the insipid Lady Julia and her insufferable daughter Aurelia. Then there is the wicked black-eyed, flame-haired Fulminata, not enough of her, but oh how we must enjoy seeing her get her just deserts. Poor old Quintus Valerius, our presumed hero, wrestles with a plot increasingly dependent on a copious use of the device of overhearing information essential to the resolution of this, by now, very tired plotline. The fights are graphic, the blood appropriately sticky but, by now, who cares.

By the end of this novel it has become obvious that more of the same is planned, indeed, may already be in the pipeline.