The start of the Gaius Petreius Ruso series, think of it as an ancient version of CSI, is set in ancient Britain (specifically in the area of modern-day Chester) while it’s under Roman rule. Trajan has just died and the post is abuzz with the doubled bonus that the new emperor has promised. Unfortunately, there’s no buzz for the drowned woman who is brought in for an autopsy where we are introduced to our title character, Medicus Ruso.
Only two weeks on the job in Britain and Ruso gets caught up in the mystery of where and why this woman was tossed in the river. But he’s not really interested in why or where, not really. Please, no. Ruso has enough on his mind with his recent divorce, his new posting to Britain, and the problems caused by his father’s death. This posting is supposed to be a lark…at least that’s what his friend, fellow medicus Valens has been writing…Only, it seems that Valens has been lonely and given to hyperbole so now Ruso is stuck with his ex-wife’s nagging in his head, an OCD administrator, army officers more interested in a good time, and the mysterious deaths of three ladies of the evening in which he’s really not interested but everyone else in town and on the post thinks he is investigating.
I liked Downie’s writing. The setting and the dialog felt very realistic right down to that lumpy mattress! The characters certainly seemed very contemporary!
Unexpectedly funny, Medicus is a very enjoyable read with its life and times of a Roman legion in hostile territory, especially when personalized with the stumbling adventures of a confused medicus as he attempts to satisfy family, play military politics, and carve out a life for himself. I’m looking forward to Terra Incognita. I gotta know what happens next for Ruso.