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Persona Non Grata by Ruth Downie
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Persona Non Grata

by Ruth Downie

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Goodreads freebie (Thanks!) This is the third book in a series about Gaius Ruso. I have not read the others - normally I prefer to read a series in order -- but this one can be read without having read the others.

Gaius Ruso is a medical officer with the Roman Legion serving in Britain when he receives an obscure message ostensibly from his brother, Lucius, demanding that he return to Roma at once. Easier said than done, since the voyage home required more than a month of sea and overland travel. Stranger yet, when he arrives home, his brother denies having sent the message and in fact regrets his arrival since Roman law prohibited seizing the land and property of anyone serving in the army. Lucius had imprudently made some loan and repayment agreements with Serverus who now declares the repayment had never been made and is foreclosing on their property. Ruso, attempts to set things right, but during a meeting with Serverus, the latter falls over dead from poison, claiming "the bitch" has killed him.

Tilla, the barbarian and Ruso's lover, tends to steal the show on occasion, and she is certainly the most interesting character. She appears the more enlightened, hardly the "barbarian," given the Roman predilection for tying people to posts for entertainment and watching wild animals eat them. Nevertheless, we don't see Tilla much -- at least in this book -- in her native surroundings so it's hard to judge.

If I have one complaint, it's that the book did not have enough period detail, something I really like in historical fiction. Many people find it tedious; I do not. On the other hand, little tidbits like, shoving one's feet into "indoor sandals," and "by law, all the household slaves who had been under the same roof as a murdered master should be put to death for failing to save him, even if they could not possibly have helped," and one way to keep a household under control was by executing the relatives. Hmmm, that one has possibilities. ( )
  ecw0647 | Sep 30, 2013 |
Another delightful light mystery with Ruso of the XX Legion and his British housekeeper, Tilla. On a mission of mercy, Ruso breaks his foot and he and Tilla go to Gaul to his family for recuperation. Murder in Ruso's family home, Ruso and Tilla must investigate. What a quirky family he has!! Same great dry humor. ( )
  janerawoof | Sep 2, 2013 |
Roman Gaul, 4th century AD, I think

Medicus Ruso gets an urgent call to come home from Britannicus to Gaul. He and his lover Tilla arrive to find bankruptcy looming, family drama, and soon, a dead creditor in the house. Great timing, right? The dead guy was poisoned, and Ruso's family are all suspects. And there's a gladiator, a bunch of Christians, an ex-wife, and a broken foot. I really like this series. Can't wait to see what happens next. ( )
  cmbohn | Jan 21, 2013 |
Ruso is summoned back to the family home only to find a lawsuit which could ruin the family is about to be launched by a creditor. The creditor is then poisoned while visiting Ruso's family. Ruso is of course the main suspect.

Dragged in places but still a worthwhile read. ( )
  Robertgreaves | Dec 1, 2012 |
I just finished Ruth Downie's latest book Persona Non Grata. It is the 3rd installment of her Roman Empire series and is a fast read. The characters are so interesting that I didn't even notice that the crime didn't occur until one third of the way through the book. Usually I hate that. Downie writes historical fiction superbly. Her knowledge of the early Roman Empire era is evident. The characters are believable, memorable and loveable.

If you are a fan of the series let me tell you right off that there is a secret at the end that you will love. 'Nuff said about that. The scene of Persona moves from Brittania to Ruso's family home in Gaul. When a series author changes the scene, the plot usually suffers. This did not happen with Persona. Downie did a good job with the characters and events that occured in Gaul.

I highly recommend it. ( )
  Violette62 | Nov 5, 2011 |
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Originally published in the UK as "Ruso and the Root of All Evils". Published in North America as "Persona Non Grata."
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Gaius Petreius Ruso and his companion, Tilla, become embroiled in a family scandal when Severus, the family's chief creditor, winds up dead.

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