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SPQR IV: The Temple of the Muses (SPQR #4)

4.07  ·  Rating Details ·  670 Ratings  ·  29 Reviews
When Roman junior senator Decius Caecilius Metellus the Younger has a chance to join a diplomatic mission to Alexandria, he welcomes the opportunity to temporarily elude his enemies in the Eternal City-even though it means leaving his beloved Rome. Decius is just beginning to enjoy the outpost's many exotic pleasures when the suspicious death of an irascible philosopher oc ...more
ebook, 240 pages
Published April 1st 2007 by Minotaur Books (first published 1992)
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(showing 1-30)
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Aug 04, 2008 Dorothy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those insterested in the history of ancient Rome and well-written and plotted mystery.
More on the history of ancient Rome in the time of the Caesars as seen through the eyes of Decius Caecilius Metellus who is frequently called upon to investigate mysteries in high places. These stories are particularly interesting for their insights into everyday life in ancient Rome.
Diana Sandberg
Jun 21, 2009 Diana Sandberg rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Decius gets up to his usual mayhem, this time in Alexandria. A few annoying errors, mostly typographical – and I’ll stretch that point for using “augur” when “auger” was meant – otherwise, amusing and diverting. I enjoyed the change of venue and the glimpse of 10yo Cleopatra, too
Vicki Cline
Sep 29, 2015 Vicki Cline rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: roman-mysteries
Decius Caecilius Metellus has gone to Alexandria as part of a diplomatic mission with his relative Quintus Caecilius Metellus Creticus (a real historical person). While he's there, one of the scholars at the Museum is murdered, and Decius can't resist getting involved. We (and he) meet several historical personages, including Cleopatra (age 10) and the Egyptian general Achillas. Decius' impertinent slave Hermes is along with him, as is his friend and doctor Asklepiodes, who gets Decius out from ...more
Randomly found this book on our shelves a few weeks ago and decided to pick it up. This was a VERY quick read, even despite all the Roman and Greek names. Though the setting is Alexandria during the Roman era, the main characters came off as being somewhat more contemporary in their speech/thoughts than I would have expected. This is especially true of Decius (the main character), who comes off somewhat like Sherlock Holmes (the new bad boy version), but less exalted and definitely less British. ...more
Feb 21, 2012 John rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another excellent Decius Metellus mystery. This time the novelty is to shift the setting from Rome to Alexandria as Decius is sent there to assist a relative in the Roman diplomatic mission there - not to mention to steer clear of his enemies in Rome and theoretically to stay out of trouble. Of course, Decius can do no such thing and soon enough a Greek philosopher turns up dead in the titular temple and Decius prevails upon the Pharaoh to investigate. As with previous novels, the simple murder ...more
Apr 07, 2012 Susan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had never read a mystery set in Roman gladiator times (50 BC) before. I was pleasantly surprised by John Maddox Roberts "The Temple of the Muses" with its vivid descriptions of a time and place I knew little about. A real treat from the protagonist, Decius Caecilius Metellus, whose droll sense of humor and ability to get into and out of trouble must in some way reflect his creator. I couldn't help but laugh at his antics while simultaneously following the intricate plot. The author also educat ...more
Georgina Ortiz
Apr 16, 2012 Georgina Ortiz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There's a great deal of running in this book, with Decius Metellus escaping from quite a number of enemies. The setting of the story was in Ancient Egypt's Alexandria, made even more exotic by the author's vivid descriptions.

The plot was okay; I liked the story's details (e.g. description of Alexandria, the dialogues, the characters esp. the Metellii) better. However, there were many many parts which I found exceedingly funny. Decius is turning out to be quite the comic.

The Kindle format of thi
May 05, 2012 Maj rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very good Decius mystery which made me laugh out loud numerous times. Historical detective story can hardly get much better without losing a certain charm.
Joyce Lagow
Apr 27, 2012 Joyce Lagow rated it it was amazing
Deciding that cowardice is the better part of valor, Decius, who has once more antagonized the powerful politicians of Rome, leaves the city for Alexandria, where his kinsman, Quintus Caecilius Metellus Creticus (a historical figure), is on a diplomatic mission to King Ptolemy of Egypt. Despite being away from his beloved Rome, Decius is having a high old time, especially since his girlfriend Julia is there to enjoy Alexandria's vast cultural heritage; the most famous is the throne-supported Lib ...more
Lance McMurchy
Quite a good little story. There were lots of running through streets, fights and general disobedience. I suppose they are things that makes thing interesting, but not very roman except may be the fighting. The encounter Decius had with the young Cleopatra was quite interesting, and seems to have stood out to me. As well as the visit to the Daphne, with a Greek prostitute, for the obvious reasons. Looking forward to reading more in the series.
Sep 21, 2013 Denise rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
These books are quick reads due to the fast-moving plots. This time our hero (Decius Caecilius Metellus the Younger) travels to Alexandria, Egypt, in the time of Pharaoh Ptolemy (the "flute player") and his young daughter, Cleopatra.

A murder occurs and Decius is called in to investigate. As usual, he has many things on his mind during his hunt for the killer. Not least of these is how he can promote his own political career that seems to have slowed to a halt.

My favorite part of the book is wh
A far better book than the previous two and we have the return of Decius' cynical smart ass humour. Still loyal to Rome and the Senate, he isn't the flag waving "my country love it or leave it" ultra conservative of Book three. The characters were enjoyable and while perhaps not entirely three dimensional, they were far from boring. Happily Asklepiodes has a decent part in the action and a moment in the limelight. I look forward to more with Julia as well.
I enjoyed Roberts rendering of ancient Alexandria. His research and descriptions are as always impeccable. While I enjoyed this story as well, I missed Decius being in Rome and some of the usual cast of characters.
Feb 06, 2013 Bonnie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I would say that this book is the best I've read in this series. Its setting of Alexandria, as well as the main character's reactions to it, really adds to the story. The mystery is involving and the character's tendencies for getting into trouble with his own relatives as well as the "bad guys" makes it fun. His fiancee Julia makes a good sidekick as she is more grounded than Decius.
Jeanette rated it really liked it
Jul 02, 2013
Shannon Appelcline
Jul 03, 2013 Shannon Appelcline rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, historical
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 16, 2013 Tim rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A mystery of sorts, set in late Ptolemaic Egypt with a visiting Roman senator. Nice evocation of the setting and characters, while the plot lumbered a bit.
Carmen Pezzi
Carmen Pezzi rated it it was amazing
Apr 07, 2014
Shrimpknuckles rated it it was amazing
Nov 17, 2014
For once, the exile isn't skipped over, here we find our friend Decius in Alexandria once again deemed by the family better out of Rome. Of course, he quickly finds his way into trouble once again. This time he finds himself investigating the murder of a scholar from the Library of Alexandria and stumbles into so much more. We meet the whole set of Ptolemys - Ptolemy, Berenice, and Cleopatra. The general who later kills Pompey is lurking about as well. Fun mystery and nie look at younger version ...more
Deb rated it really liked it
Aug 11, 2015
Aug 19, 2015 Ian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Decius in Alexandria. I enjoyed this more than his Rome setting novels. Perhaps I just prefer Alex to Rome? A philosopher is killed, however, he is a pragmatic phil, selling his skills as a weapon designer to the Parthian king, and involving himself in a potential war. Decius skilfully unravels and all is more or less well.
Judy Buennagel
Judy Buennagel rated it it was amazing
Nov 06, 2015
Feb 22, 2016 Sara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was another really fun Decius Metellus mystery. In this one, he's in Alexandria (due to his "bad behavior" he is out of Rome for a while) and ends up wrapped up in the murder of a philosopher. The author does a fabulous job of establishing the setting in Alexandria, and I have to be honest, I enjoyed this one the most out of this series so far. I love how Decius's little murder mysteries are invariably tied to the strength of the Republic, or potential scandal, and this one is no exception.
Chris rated it really liked it
Mar 31, 2016
May 13, 2016 Larry rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
John Maddox Roberts delivers a solid product. Every instalment of his series of detective novels set in the Roman Republic has fascinating local color, convincing historical detail, and the interaction between the protagonist Decius, and his associates: Julia, his betrothed, Hermes, his slave, and the Greek physician Asklepiodes. There are the same tropes -- being chased by a mob out for Decius blood, knocking down an adversary with a cestus, an erotic encounter with a femme fatale. I wish that ...more
Fred Kohn
It's a pretty nifty idea to have an ancient Roman detective, and it worked pretty well, I guess. But JMR seemed too interested in showing off his knowledge of ancient history for this to work well as a mystery, at least for me. The murder didn't occur until around p 50 and the action didn't really pick up until around p 100. It was a great story once it got going, but 100 pages to set the atmosphere seems a bit excessive when the entire novel is only about 220 pages.
Another fun outing with Decius Caecilius Metellus the Younger. In this entry Decius travels to Alexandria with one of his older and wiser family members but, as always, manages to find a murder to investigate. Love Decius' first person narration as voiced in the audio version by the excellent John Lee.
Seth Dwyer-frazier
Seth Dwyer-frazier rated it really liked it
Aug 03, 2016
Aug 18, 2016 Glen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an amateur sleuth series based in the ancient Roman empire.

Minor junior senator, Metellus the Younger is sent to Alexandria, as he keeps causing trouble in Rome. He meets and greets various functionaries, when a noted philosopher is murdered. Metellus pokes around, causing no end of trouble, nearly getting killed more than once, and finally gets to the bottom of things.

Quite entertaining with a lot of humor.
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aka Mark Ramsay

John Maddox Roberts is the author of numerous works of science fiction and fantasy, in addition to his successful historical SPQR mystery series. The first two books in the series have recently been re-released in trade paperback. He lives in New Mexico with his wife.
More about John Maddox Roberts...

Other Books in the Series

SPQR (1 - 10 of 13 books)
  • SPQR I: The King's Gambit (SPQR #1)
  • SPQR II: The Catiline Conspiracy (SPQR, #2)
  • SPQR III: The Sacrilege (SPQR, #3)
  • SPQR V: Saturnalia (SPQR, #5)
  • SPQR VI: Nobody Loves a Centurion (SPQR, #6)
  • SPQR VII: The Tribune's Curse (SPQR, #7)
  • SPQR VIII: The River God's Vengeance (SPQR, #8)
  • SPQR IX: The Princess and the Pirates (SPQR, #9)
  • SPQR X: A Point of Law (SPQR, #10)
  • SPQR XI: Under Vesuvius (SPQR, #11)

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