Monday, April 23, 2012

Ils sont fous ces romains!

Though I didn't really love Kelli Stanley's series set in 1940s San Francisco, I kind of liked her Roman noir mysteries set in Britain in the 1st century A.D.

In Nox Dormienda, the doctor-detective debuts: trying to solve murders committed in a Roman temple. Are the culprits native British insurgents or practitioners of a slaughtered and persecuted ancient religion, sending a message? In The Curse Maker, the doctor and his wife head to a small spa town just in time to figure out who killed a curse maker whose curses mysteriously come true.

I liked the novelty of a noir set in Roman Britain. It actually worked well, and managed to conjure every dark, shadowy image of every movie set in the Roman Empire that I was ever made to watch as a kid.

The first book had enough tidbits of the protagonist's past to make it interesting (seeing his mother killed in a native uprising, being adopted by a Roman and growing up privileged and half-British in a tense outpost of the Roman Empire). But the second book barely touched on any of it, which is a pity. Instead, it focused on the "mystery" melancholy of the doctor's wife - which was disappointingly easy for me to guess within a few pages.

I do hope there's a third book. I won't rush out to read it, but I'll definitely add it to my reading pile.

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