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Nox Dormienda: A Long Night for Sleeping (Roman Noir #1)

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3.67 of 5 stars 3.67  ·  rating details  ·  163 ratings  ·  36 reviews
Arcturus the half-Roman doctor and occasional problem-solver -- has seen much in his thirty-three years. He is Agricola's doctor and friend. And Agricola is the governor of Britannia. On a frozen December afternoon, he learns the governor is in trouble. The Emperor Domitian has sent a spy to Britannia -- a spy carrying papers demanding Agricola's resignation. It doesn't ma ...more
Hardcover, 323 pages
Published July 1st 2008 by Five Star (ME) (first published 2008)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 349)
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Sineala
It's Roman Britain; Agricola is governor, and our hero Arcturus is his half-Roman half-British physician, who solves mysteries on the side. A rich man shows up in Londinium and a beautiful woman -- incidentally the man's fiancee -- shows up at Arcturus' door to tell him that the man is a spy. And then the spy himself turns up dead in the local mithraeum, and a mystery has begun.

I liked this well enough. But I ought to have loved it -- Agricola against the druids! Mithraism! Camulodunum! -- and I
...more
Linda Bulger
What does a Classics scholar do for fun?

Author Kelli Stanley has a Classics education and an astonishingly wide range of interests and achievements. It's our good luck that one of her interests is noir fiction, or in this case the "roman noir," a nice little pun describing her wonderful new novel Nox Dormienda: A Long Night for Sleeping (An Arcturus Mystery). The book is set in 83 A.D. Londinium, a trading center in the Roman province of Brittania under the governorship of Agricola. Agricola is
...more
Nancy
I thoroughly enjoyed this novel set in an era I love to read and write about. Southern Britannia AD 83 was a time when Rome’s influence was well entrenched and many of the southern Celtic tribes had already adopted the culture of Rome as is the case with Gwyna and her father. Arcturus, the main protagonist being of the blood of both Roman and Celt has a good sound foot in both camps. A lovely twist in the Roman Noir detective story is that the half-native Arcturus is a doctor- trained by the ren ...more
T.C.
Jan 27, 2014 T.C. rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2008
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dana
I love noir and I love historical fiction. Nox Dormienda captures both elements in a seamless blend of classic noir with ancient Rome in a well-written, suspenseful and funny mystery novel. I can't wait for the next in the series!
Heather
With so many mystery novels to choose from, it’s rare to find a fresh voice. But Arcturus is just that in Nox Dormienda (translated: a long night for sleeping). A history lover and writer myself, I was interested in seeing how author Kelli Stanley handled the Roman era of the first century C.E. I was impressed.

Stanley writes with confidence, obvious knowledge, and a dry humor that kept me engrossed and smiling throughout. The world of Roman noir is skillfully created, and even at times when I s
...more
Carey
This new mystery series is set in Roman occupied Britain. The governor, Agricola, has subdued the Britons and built a fragile peace after the terrible destruction of the Druids' sacred isle of Mona and the defeat of Boudicca. But the balance is precarious, the Romans and the natives barely tolerate each other.

Arcturus is caught with a foot in both worlds. His mother was a Briton but his father and step-father were both Roman. He has managed to become a successful physician, officially he is Agri
...more
Mary
Jun 01, 2008 Mary rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Ages 13 and up who don't mind mild swearing
"The morning staggered by, still looking for a party. Saturnalia was officially over two days ago - unofficially there were still cockfights and dice throws, more wine-soaked quickies and the odor of vomit filling every alley."

Welcome to Kelli Stanley's world of Roman noir.

I have enjoyed "detectives in togas" for a number of years - particularly a late Roman Republican sleuth named Gordianus the Finder penned from the imagination of Steven Saylor. But I am not familiar with the private eyes tha
...more
Meg
A very solid historical mystery of Roman Britain. Worth reading!

Recommended. Although this attempt at "Ancient Roman Noir" doesn't fully pull off its Noir aspirations (not enough quest allegory; city is not a full character, and the women have too many redeeming features for classic noir!), that doesn't get in the way of it being a great historical mystery and a darned fun read.
Vicki Cline
I didn't really care for this one, and didn't even finish it. I guess it's the "noir" tone that got to me. I also don't like the Falco series and David Wishart's Corvinus series irritates me a bit. They all seem too modern in tone to me. I love Steven Saylor and John Maddox Roberts, and like Rosemary Rowe and Ruth Downie quite a bit. They all seem to write in an appropriate Roman manner.

Harvey
I had previously read, and loved, Ms. Stanley's City of Dragons, a murder mystery very atmospherically set in San Francisco's Chinatown, circa 1940.

So I was curious about this one and glad I gave it a try. She calls the style "Roman Noir" and I'm not so sure that applies. But it does cover "palace intrigue" of the Roman Governor of London/Brittania as the Governor's medical doctor, friend, and "fixer" solves murders and a political plot.

Stanley is a Classics scholar so knows her Roman stuff. I
...more
Larry
This was quite a thrilling book. The plot was a little more complex than I would have liked, and because it is told in the first person, anything that happens offstage has to be recounted to the protagonist, which could be a little awkward. The emotional attachments of the characters seem develop too quickly to be believable. Some of the motivations of the characters seemed implausible.

But in spite of all that, I am really glad that I read the book. I developed an attachment to the protagonist t
...more
Elizabeth
This book is set during the Roman occupation of what was to become part of England and the author decided on a noir approach. Noir and I get along about 50% of the time. And about 50% of this book had the noir flavor. That could have meant I would love it but unfortunately that just wasn't the case. The (of course) heart-stoppingly beautiful dame was the most noir element of the book. She fit the type really well except at the very end. For the rest of it, feelings got in the way of the noir. At ...more
Kirsten
Although there's great detail about medieval Britain, the characters are pretty boring & annoying.
Lynne
I'm pretty ambivalent about this book. It was ok. I liked the accuracy of the setting - the author knows her Roman Britain. So that was actually pretty good. Terminology was good - titles were clear from the context, and often explained as well. Glimpses of day to day life were entertaining. My problem was that the characters weren't all that engaging, and I’m not sure why. The mystery part was fine - I didn't figure out the bad guy until the end, which is how it ought to be. BUT I really didn't ...more
Mary Lou
Very interesting first novel by a classicist, mystery set in Roman Britain.

The character Arcturus has a lot of potential.

Lots of good period details, mostly rings true in light of early Roman ruins I've seen (Corinth, Pompeii, Herculaneum). One jarring note: on page 47, a character says, "there are no clocks in taverns"--uh, in the first century, I don't think there were clocks anywhere. Weren't sundials the state of the art for timekeeping?

I'd read another Arcturus book, though. Good first outi
...more
Mary
The blurbs on the book cover present this "Roman noir" as a new genre, but it doesn't seem all that different to me from the early Falco novels by Lindsey Davis or the Libertus novels by Rosemary Rowe. If you like those, you'll probably like this.

The central mystery is fairly interesting, as are the presumably recurring characters in the household of Arcturus. However, I feel the personal stories of Arcturus and his household were tied up a little too neatly at the end.
Nancy
This is a first novel as well as the first book in a new series. I met Kelli Stanley at Bouchercon last year and was intrigued by the concept of "Roman noir." Stanley set her noir mystery in Roman Britain in the 1st century A.D. Like Jeri Westerson's Crispin Guest series, Nox Dormienda works because noir fiction is more about characters and atmosphere than it is about a specific culture or historical time period.
Maggie Secara
Enjoyable, although not really as good as the first one. Too many suspects with similar motives and the same attitude, not nearly enough likeable people. Plus it really is kind of unbelievable both that his wife would have kept that secret from him and that a physician, of all people, would not have seen what every slave in the street could see. In a way it seemed like a lift with variations on Falco and Helena.
Debra
Nice mystery. Exciting. Good sense of place and time (important in an historical.) Believable characters. I'm waiting for the promised Maledictus.

My only quibble would be that although Ms Stanley is a classicist, most of her readers are not. It would have been nice to have had contextual clues to the many Latin words. There is a glossary but flipping to the back takes me out of the story.
Jessica
Stanley should easily capture the attention of Lindsey Davis fans with this first outing - solidly researched and well-plotted, if not especially creative beyond the novelty of out-of-period noir.
Mihir

A decent mystery in a Roman setting, character cast was interesting as well. The main protagonist's voice does a good job of steering the story and has a slight mysterious past as well. A good start to a series, might check out the next book as well.
Mary
Pretty good mystery with plenty of period detail. The author was aiming for a Noir tome set in Imperial Rome. For the most part she was sucessful. There's a great deal of Latin littering the pages. The dictionary in the back is very helpful.
L.
Jun 29, 2011 L. rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: mystery
Since I teach Latin and history I am uber-critical of anyone who attempts to set a story in ancient Rome. The story is good but drags on at times. The use of Latin was fun for me, but could be viewed as a bit pretentious by others.
Richard Brand
While I am not sure that there were enough clues given in the story to enable the reader to solve the mystery, the story was an interesting read and I enjoyed it. I have found that I enjoy the writing and approach of Kelli Stanley
Cheryl
Wow -- honestly this was a great mystery. It was also great historic fiction. I expected this to be good but not how very good it was. A super fun read with great characters and a complicated plot.
Susan Shea
From the gorgeous cover to the surprising setting, Kelli's crafted a strong new entry to the mystery department - an ancient P.I.! The second one is just being released - should be fun.
Tana Hall
Apr 27, 2008 Tana Hall rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: fans of Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, noir
Wow - I read a lot of Roman historicals and this was the first one that made me forget it was history! Fast, thrilling, funny, awesome ending. I'm psyched that this is a series!

Paul Dingsdale
The "Roman Noir" style of detective writing was a little jarring at first ... but it worked well -- good story, interesting characters. Would definitely read more by the author.
Deborah
I like this bok a lot!, a mystery set in Roman times Britain with a doctor as the detective. I understand she hopes to write more mysteries in this world and I hope so!
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An award-winning author of crime fiction, Kelli Stanley's first novel in the Miranda Corbie series, CITY OF DRAGONS, was met with overwhelming critical acclaim. It won the Macavity Award (Sue Feder Historical Mystery Award) and was a finalist for the prestigious Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the Shamus Award. CITY OF SECRETS, her second novel in the series, won the Golden Nugget Award for best ...more
More about Kelli Stanley...

Other Books in the Series

Roman Noir (2 books)
  • The Curse-Maker (Roman Noir, #2)
City of Dragons City of Secrets The Curse-Maker (Roman Noir, #2) City of Ghosts: A Mystery Memory Book: A Miranda Corbie Story

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