Dusty Book: Medicus by Ruth Downie

Singled out as one of 2007’s  Best Crime Novels, Medicus by Ruth Downie is an engrossing historical mystery with a very contemporary hero. Gaius Petrius Ruso is like the Spenser of the Roman Empire–world weary, heart of gold, doesn’t suffer fools gladly, apartment a bit of a cave. An army doctor on the outs with his superiors, Gaius is sent to Britannia’s remote Deva. Instead of staying out of sight and out of mind, he stirs up trouble by rescuing a slave girl from her abusive owner and asking questions about a string of prostitute murders. Downie is excellent at weaving period detail and politics into this excellent mystery without ever making it seem like a history lesson. She manages to keep an archetypal cranky, noble  protagonist fresh, yet familiar. A fascinating read, the appeal of this series debut reaches beyond the boundaries of the historical or mystery genres.

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About the Author:

Karen Kleckner Keefe is the director of the Hinsdale (IL) Public Library, a Booklist reviewer, and one of Library Journal's 2009 "Movers and Shakers." Follow her on Twitter at @KarenKleckner.

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