The Roman Mysteries: The Legionary from Londinium and Other Mini-Mysteries
AD 80-81. These six mini mysteries fill in some of the gaps between the Roman Mysteries stories, and they are nicely varied. In The Moon in Full Daylight, the children rescue a lost small boy who is mysteriously ill; The Legionary from Londinium concerns treasure buried many years ago in Britannia; Flavia tells her friend Polla the story of Death by Medusa in a letter; The Perseus Prophecy is a murder mystery; The Five Barley Grains follows up the legionary’s story; and in Threptus and the Sacred Chickens, a minor character from Caroline’s final novel in the series has his own adventure.
In her introduction, Caroline Lawrence announces that Threptus will be the hero of her new detective series for younger readers, and she cleverly hooks them into wanting to know more. Threptus, a young beggar living in Ostia who was once a small time thief, gets the chance of a new life at the end of Threptus and the Sacred Chickens. However, it’s obvious that things aren’t going to be plain-sailing: Naso, the bullying leader of a youth crime gang, is his enemy and we can see that there will be problems ahead…
Caroline Lawrence obviously enjoys having her young readers’ input and, in her postscript, we learn that a number of them supplied clues for the mini mysteries and went to great lengths to come up with intriguing and well-researched ideas. As usual, there is an excellent glossary at the back and, at the front, a map of the Roman port of Ostia where the stories are set, with the various locations clearly shown.
I’m sure that this book will be a welcome addition to any fan’s collection. For boys and girls of 9 plus.
Each short story keeps you on your toes throughout. I found it hard to guess the solution to each before it was revealed. I think it was a shame to leave the book with a tale following a different character, Threptus. I would have liked it to have ended with Flavia, Jonathan, Nubia and Lupus as I have grown very fond of them; nevertheless it was a very good story with interesting content and plot.
I would suggest reading a few of the Roman Mystery books before this one as there is not much description or background relating to the main characters.
I thoroughly enjoyed it as a light read and would recommend this book for children up to the age of 13 who enjoy a good mystery.