Tabula Rasa: A Crime Novel of the Roman Empire

Bloomsbury USA. Aug. 2014. 352p. ISBN 9781608197088. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781620403235. M
In his sixth outing (after Semper Fidelis), intrepid medicus Gaius Ruso and his wife, Tilla, are back in northern Britannia, enduring the cold and rain of late autumn in the shadow of Hadrian's Wall. In fairly short order two people go missing—Candidus, Ruso's clerk, and a nine-year-old British boy. Tempers flare as it is reported the boy was abducted by one of the soldiers. Ruso and Tilla grow increasingly frustrated as they try to solve the two mysteries while keeping the fragile peace between the Romans and native Britons.
VERDICT Like the other titles in the series, Downie's latest mixes an engaging story line, provocative characters, and a satisfying evocation of time and place. The minor and major threads merge seamlessly at the end, providing a satisfying conclusion for (almost) everyone. Series fans and Roman history buffs will enjoy this page-turner. [See Prepub Alert, 2/10/14.]

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