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Catilina's Riddle by Steven Saylor
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Catilina's Riddle (1993)

by Steven Saylor

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Showing 1-5 of 13 (next | show all)
Interminably wrong. Lots of themes, plots, and subplots, and Saylor's usual dexterity, but I think I lost a whole month on what I thought would be another charming, thrilling Roman mystery. ( )
  mrsmarch | Nov 28, 2018 |
Another solid read in the Roma Sub Rosa series by Steven Saylor. This book tells the story of the rebellion of Catilina during the age of Cicero. Like the first two books in the series, this one involved Gordianus the Finder and a mystery involving dead people. The difference from previous books is that the mystery is sort of the story created to tell the real story of Catilina's rebellion. Must of the middle part of the book is speeches given by Cicero and by Catilina, and Saylor explains in his note at the end that he took the speeches from history.

In terms of the plot and the story, it did seem to slow down at times because of the long texts of the speeches. As a history person, I enjoyed them immensely. However, it a person is coming to this as more of a fan of literature and mystery novels, I imagine they would not enjoy the story as much as the first two in the series.

I will be reading the rest of this series over time. Great stuff! ( )
  msaucier818 | Apr 9, 2018 |
My least favorite of the Gordianus books so far. I really felt like I was plodding through it. I still enjoyed but I think that it was a just barely enjoyed it. I thought the first two books were plotted tighter with a more engaging central mystery. I will still be buying the 4th book but I hope that it returns to a faster pace. ( )
  CSDaley | Mar 28, 2018 |
Gordianus the Finder is relishing living in semi retirement in the countryside, or so he thinks! It seems you can never be too far away from the political intrigue of the Forum. Gordianus is at his curmudgeonly best accompanied by a delightfully varied cast of characters. ( )
  cathymoore | Oct 14, 2013 |
Gordianus calls himself the Finder. We would call him a gumsandal. He helps politicians uncover scandal about their opponents; he helps advocates collect evidence of an enemy's crimes, but he is discouraged that he seems no longer able to serve truth and justice. Rome has become a city of corruption and evil. Fortunately, he has inherited a lovely farm in the country with an adequate supply of slaves to run it.

Such is the setting for Catalina's Riddle. Gordianus has forsaken Rome with its corrupt politics. When his loyalty to Cicero is appealed to ostensibly by one of Cicero's henchmen, who insists that the Finder's assistance is needed to keep tabs on Catilina's nefarious intentions, Gordianus refuses, only to discover a headless corpse in his barn a few days later. How could the body have been placed there without the knowledge of his family or slaves? He calls on his son, Eco, from Rome, for assistance. Eco has his father's uncanny ability to observe the smallest details.

Soon Catilina shows up at Gordianus' farm allegedly for rest and relaxation, but he exhibits extraordinary interest in an old silver mine filled to overflowing with the skeletons of slaves who had been murdered when the mine was shut down The mine also happens to be located on Gnaeius Claudius' property next to Gordianus' farm, and the Claudius family are still enraged that their ancestor should have left property to Gordianus that they felt should have rightly gone to them.

Gordianus travels to Rome for his son Meto's coming of age: he will become a full citizen with the right to wear the toga. It also happens to be the time of the election, and Saylor treats us to a vivid account of how Roman elections were conducted. But Gordianus has a problem. Marcus Caelius who claims to be Cicero's secret agent pretending to work for Catilina; but his actions betray a more sincere attachment to Catilina woos him. Who is he really working for?

Saylor integrates some of the actual speeches delivered by Cicero before the Senate into the story. The historical record is mostly antagonistic to Catilina; Saylor's tale is much more ambiguous.
A very good mystery in a fascinating setting. ( )
  ecw0647 | Sep 30, 2013 |
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Saylor, StevenAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hjukström, CharlotteTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Embossed upon the shield Aeneas saw

The stony halls of the netherworld, the domain of the damned

And the punishments they suffer. There Catilina clings to the edge of a sheer

Precipice, cringing in terror while the Furies beat their wings about him . . .

VIRGIL, The Aeneid,
VIII: 666-669
How haue we chang'd and come about

in every doome,

Since wicked CATILINE went out,

And quitted Rome?

One while, we thought him innocent;

And, then w'accus'd

The Consul, for his malice spent;

And power abus'd.

Since, that we heare, he is in armes

We thinke not so:

Yet charge the Consul, with our harmes

That let him goe:

So, in our censure of the state,

We still do wander;

And make the careful magistrate

The marke of slander.

Ben Jonson, Catiline his Conspiracy,
ACT IV: 863-878
What is truth?

PONTIUS PILATUS
Dedication
To the Shade of My Mother
First words
"According to Cato . . ." I said, and paused, squinting at the scroll.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0312982119, Mass Market Paperback)

Using scholarly historical insight and evocative storytelling that brings to life the glories of ancient Rome, Steven Saylor takes the reader from the bloody lines of clashing Roman armies to the backrooms of the Senate floor, where power-hungry politicians wrestle the Fates for control of Rome's destiny.

With the consular election drawing near, Rome is fiercely divided between the conservative Cicero and the tempestuous Catilina, whose followers are rumored to be plotting a blood-thirsty siege for power if their leader fails to win office.

Gordianus the Finder, retired to his Etruscan farm, is happy to be free of the intrigue and danger of the capital. But when his old friend Cicero enlists the Finder in an elaborate plot to control Catilina, Gordianus is drawn back into a familiar world. Now caught in a cloak-and-dagger political struggle for the fate of the Republic, Gordianus finds himself strangely drawn to the controversial candidate. Is Catilina really a subversive renegade, or are Cicero suspicions part of an even greater conspiracy? When a headless corpse ominously appears on his farm, Gordianus knows he must unlock the secret of Catilina's Riddle before Rome tears herself apart.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:11:37 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

The year is 63 BC, and Gordianus the Finder unexpectedly achieves the dream of every Roman: owning a farm in the Etruscan countryside. Vowing to leave behind the corruption of Rome, he abandons the city, taking his family with him. This bucolic life, however, is disrupted by the machinations and murderous plots of two politicians. When Gordianus' longtime patron Cicero attains his lifelong dream of a coveted consulship, he urgently requests a favor of Gordianus: his help in keeping watch on a radical populist senator, Catilina-Cicero's political rival and a candidate to replace him in the annual elections. Against his will, Gordianus finds himself drawn deeper and deeper into a maelstrom of deceit and intrigue, uncertain of the dangers and even more uncertain of where his true allegiance lies. When his six-year-old daughter Diana finds a headless corpse in their stable, Gordianus is confronted with the deadliest mystery of his career. Shrewdly depicting deadly political maneuverings, this addictive mystery also displays the author's firm grasp of history and human character.… (more)

» see all 6 descriptions

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