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A Murder on the Appian Way by Steven Saylor
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Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
I like Gordianus the Finder. He's not as witty as my other favourite M Didius Falco but the characters are well drawn and the attention to historical detail is second to none. The addition of thorough author's notes at the end help to separate the known facts from the fictional filling in. ( )
  cathymoore | Jul 10, 2014 |
Another Gordianus detective story, and entertaining as always. The story of the death of Clodius, the ramifications thereof, and all told from the perspective of the one man who can sort the entire mess out. In the background the two "great men" Caesar and Pompey can be seen drifting apart.

* just a note on the description blurb for this novel. Did anyone see a gay subtext? Not me. ( )
  Traveller1 | Mar 30, 2013 |
The best Gordianus episode so far! Rome is in upheaval. The Republic is close to the end. The people are divided into the patriarchs (the Best People) and the plebeians made up of freeborns and freed slaves. Milo represents the patriarchs and Clodius (brother and rumored lover of Clodia) who was born a patriarch and had himself adopted by a plebeian so that he could represent them. Clodius is murdered after the two have an encounter on the Appian Way. There is much at stake here so Gordianus, the most honest man in Rome is requested by no less than three parties to investigate.

First to ask him for help is his old acquaintance, Cicero, friend of Milo. Second is Clodia, sister of Clodius, who brings him to see Fluvia, Clodius's wife. Last but in no way least, is Pompey, who remains with his army outside the city waiting for his chance to step in and save Rome from herself.

On his way home from the scene of the murder, after interviewing many witnesses, Gordianus and Eco are kidnapped and confined in a hole in the ground for over 40 days. They escape and return to Rome in time for Milo's trial and surprising turns of events at home. In their absence, Pompey has instigated a new form of trial. No longer do the orators have the stage for days using their skills to persuade the jury members and usually making it unnecessary for them to hear actual witnesses. Now the witnesses are heard first; examined and cross-examined. Then the orators are allowed two hours for the prosecution side and three hours for the defense.

Saylor has given the reader a vivid picture of what is was like in Rome in the days of the end of the Republic. Gordianus takes in two more members for his family and it looks like there might be another all too soon. ( )
  mamzel | Mar 25, 2012 |
I love Steven Saylor's Roma Sub Rosa series. Yes, Gordianus is far too modern in his attitudes for an ancient Roman, but Saylor's descriptions of ancient Rome are wonderful and make you feel like you're really there. And at least Gordianus' oddities are acknowledged in-universe, so there's some concession there to the fact that he often does things a typical Roman man and father would not have done.

A Murder on the Appian Way deals with the death of Publius Clodius Pulcher, a famous populist rabble-rousing politician of the late Roman Republic. There's a lot of foreshadowing of the Republic's fall in this book; especially in the early conversations Gordianus has with his daughter Diana.

The murder of Clodius sparks riots and the burning down of the Senate house. Gordianus is eventually approached by his widow, Fulvia, to investigate what happened and also to check if Marc Antony had anything to do with the murder. He also runs into Clodia again, who also wants to know what happened. However, he doesn't really commit to working for Fulvia, and winds up getting hired instead by Pompey Magnus, usually referred to within the book as "The Great One." Heh.

So Gordianus and his son (along with Gordianus' new slave, Davus), set off to the Appian Way to investigate what happened. I'm not really going to get into the details of the investigation except to say that they eventually wind up being kidnapped, except for Davus, who is left for dead, and that while Milo was ultimately behind it, Cicero knew what had happened and let it happen (though he did convince Milo not to kill them).

To which my reaction was "Whoa. Steven Saylor really hates Cicero!" He had certainly portrayed him as the epitome of the scummy lawyer in past books, with some justification. But I really hadn't thought that his portrayal of him could get any more unsympathetic, but clearly I was wrong. Which is interesting to me, since while Gordianus' and Cicero's relationship had been deteriorating for quite some time now, this really marks the end of good relations between them presumably, and I wonder what means for future books. While I can certainly understand Gordianus' (and probably Saylor's) problems with Cicero's methods, I think ultimately Gordianus and Cicero want the same thing: which is for the Roman Republic to stay a republic. And we all know it's not going to for very long.

A few other items of note: we get introduced to Marcus Antonius for the first time in this book, and I was nerdily disappointed (and somewhat surprised) that Saylor has chosen to call him "Marc Antony." I figured if anyone was going to refer to him by his proper Roman name, it would have been Saylor, as he did so with Catalina after all (who's usually referred to as Cataline). Ah well. Most of the Marc Antony stuff seemed like obvious setup for future novels, including a somewhat shoehorned reference to a young Cleopatra.

We also get a broken Minerva statue being used as a rather obvious metaphor for the broken Republic, complete with a detailed description of how it must have had an internal flaw that was invisible on the outside but that ultimately made it vulnerable enough to get broken where it did. Really, Saylor? That was rather anvilicious of you.

I don't mean to bash this book though; it was pretty good. And I always enjoy Saylor's take on Clodia. He manages to never quite settle the question of whether or not she and her brother were having "improper relations," while at the same time portraying her as a definitely lusty, but ultimately sympathetic character, who in this book was genuinely grieving for her brother. I liked the scene at the end when Gordianus delivers Clodius' ring to her; a nice touch.

Another thing I'd like to mention is that this book marks the reappearance of Marcus Tullius Tiro, Cicero's slave who was introduced in Roman Blood. He was an extremely likable character in that book and remains so here, and it was a pleasure to see him again (and to see that he'd finally been freed). Something about the way Saylor portrays him is just so huggable. ( )
  robotprincess | May 15, 2011 |
Another solid entry in the series about Gordianus the Finder. A great look into the aftermath of the Milo-Clodius business and its impact on coming events b/t Pompey & Caesar, as well as some fun family stuff for Gordianus. I liked the bits with Clodia and (almost) Gordianus. Saylor clearly does not like Cicero and was happy to write about his failure in this case. :-) ( )
  saholc | May 27, 2010 |
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To those who taught me history,
beginning with Iva Cockrell,
and at the University of Texas at Austin,
Professors Oliver Radkey, M. Gwyn Morgan,
Richard Graham and R. David Armstrong
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0312961731, Mass Market Paperback)

This is the fifth in Steven Saylor's "Roma Sub Rosa" series: murder mysteries set in classical Rome just before the fall of the Empire. Once again, Saylor's sleuth is Gordoianus the Finder, a sort of Sam Spade in a toga, who is hired by the rich and infamous of Roman society to solve their personal and political troubles. This time the powerful politician Publius Clodius is murdered on an open road and as riots break out, the fate of the Republic is in doubt. The plotting is deft and the action -- both physical and intellectual -- is nonstop. Most of the characters here are heterosexual but Saylor (who also writes great erotica under the name Aaron Travis) brings a critical gay sensibility to his tales that forms the cultural and emotional crux of his work.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:43:18 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Rome is in a state of turmoil as the rival gangs of Publius Clodius, a high-born, populist politician, and his archenemy Titus Milo fight to control the consular elections. When Clodius is murdered on the famed Appian Way and Milo is accused of the crime, the city explodes with riots and arson. Even the sacrosanct Senate House is burned to the ground. As accusations and rumors fly, Gordianus the Finder - whose famed investigative skills and integrity have made him much sought after by all sides in the escalating conflict - is charged by Pompey the Great with discovering what really happened on the Appian Way on 18 January 52 B.C. What were the circumstances of Clodius's death? Who is responsible? And should his murderer be despised as a villain or hailed as a savior of the Republic? As Cicero fights to save Milo, and the Clodians to destroy him, the answers become ever more vital and ever more obscured. While the city descends into chaos, Pompey and his rival Julius Caesar watch from a distance, and plot their own ambitions.… (more)

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