Wednesday 14 March 2018

Memento Mori by Ruth Downie

Shortlisted for Book of the Month

UK cover
US Cover

Amazon UK £5.99
Amazon US $17.70
Mystery / Fictional Saga
Roman Britain

“Much of what Legionary medicus Ruso has been told about Britannia isn’t true. Unfortunately much of what he’s told by his local expert – the enigmatic and independent-minded Tilla – may not be true either.”

In the eighth instalment of this delightful series, our hero Ruso and his wife, Tilla, have another murder to investigate. This time, a fire destroys a tavern with several lives being lost in the blaze, while across the road the body of a woman, who happens to be the wife of Medicus Ruso's friend, is found floating in the sacred waters of the hot spring at Aquae Sulis (better known to us modern non-Romans as the Roman Baths at Bath,) which, of course, has the unpleasant possibility of causing a scandal and getting all sorts of the wrong people in trouble. Not to mention the additional concern of angering the local goddess, Sulis Minerva herself, and, more important, devastating the tourist trade. So all-in-all the temple and town officials are keen to keep the murder as quiet as they can. Unfortunately for them, the dead woman's father is determined to make as much noise as he can.

Meanwhile, the husband, Ruso's mate, Valens,  could face execution if found guilty, but even he is not much help to Ruso and Tilla who want to uncover the truth of what really happened, even though it looks, very much, that Valens is guilty after all...

Ms Downie writes thoroughly entertaining novels which keep you guessing as to 'who done it'. Her research is accurate and she skilfully creates a rich air of vivid reality of time, place and events. Her characters are an absolute delight to know - even the 'baddies', while poor old Ruso still hasn't quite figured out how to handle Tilla, who remains just as much a delightful law unto herself here in Book Eight as she was in Book One.

The mystery in the plots for every book in the series are well-rounded and absorbing, the medical aspects are interesting (and accurate), the action is entertaining and the bits in between keep you turning the pages, eager to know what is to happen next. Oh, and there are some wonderful chuckles scattered here and there along the way, guaranteed to make you laugh. Start where you like within the series, each adventure is a well-written stand-alone, but if you haven't yet met Ruso and Tilla, start at the beginning and enjoy the pleasure of working your way through Ruso and co's adventures.

From cover to cover, this is one of the most entertaining historical-based mystery series going. Each one a Diamond of a Read recommended. 

© Helen Hollick

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