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SPQR XII: Oracle of the Dead (SPQR #12)

3.99  ·  Rating Details  ·  306 Ratings  ·  23 Reviews
Decius Caecilius Metellus, this year's magistrate for cases involving foreigners, is living the good life in southern Italy, happy to be away from Rome, a city suffering war jitters over Caesar's impending actions. He thinks he is merely visiting one of the local sights when he takes a party to visit the Oracle of the Dead, a pre-Roman cult site located at the end of a tun ...more
ebook, 240 pages
Published December 9th 2008 by Minotaur Books (first published 2005)
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I have followed Decius Caecilius Metellus, scion of the powerful Metellii, from his earliest career until this entry in his saga. He is now middle-aged and serving as Rome's praetor peregrinus, the magistrate who administers justice for foreigners. His career has evolved during the time of the end of the Republic. From his privileged vantage point, he has watched and participated in the machinations of many of the great and would-be-great. He knows them all and he tells us what he knows as he wr ...more
Georgina Ortiz
Aug 07, 2012 Georgina Ortiz rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There is one paragraph from Oracle of the Dead that made me slap my forehead in homage to its sheer comic brilliance (if you know and love the protagonist Decius, you would know what I'm talking about): "With a few of my helpers and preceded by my six lictors I rode on into the beautiful city, where I was greeted with the usual choruses of children and girls in white gowns who strewed flower petals in my path and local poets who read panegyrics in my honor. At least, I think they were panegyrics ...more
Dec 27, 2015 Flemming rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Once again, its like coming home to be reading SPQR - Mr. Maddox's command of the historical events is impressive, and his ability to weave it into an engaging tale of mystery and imagination is even more so.

I cannot recommend this series enough!
Excellent mystery story, which, for once, I couldn't work out who did it! This always makes me happy.

As always, John Maddox Roberts research is impeccable, but doesn't overwhelm the story.

Highly recommended.
Christopher Taylor
Another fine entry in this series of Roman historical mysteries. Each is well-researched and intriguing, and by this point the investigator is mature and very established in power and status in Roman society. On vacation to a pleasant part of the country he encounters a fascinating split level temple with Apollo worshipped on the top and the dread goddess Hecate, not officially worshipped in Rome. An oracle is in the depths below in a series of ancient tunnels hewn from solid rock and leading to ...more
Joyce Lagow
Now praetor perigrinus--an elected official whose job it is to hear cases involving foreigners or Roman citizens outside of Rome, Decius Caecilius Metellus the Younger is traveling through the towns of Campania, along with his wife, household and now considerable retinue. For once, he's thankful to be away from Rome where everyone waits for the inevitable civil war; Caesar and the Senate are locked in unresolvable conflict, and Pompey is getting ready to raise an army to oppose him. Decius, who ...more
Bruce Macbain
[This review originally appeared in Historical Novels Review:]

In this, the twelfth of Roberts’ Roman mystery series featuring his sleuth Decius Caecilius Metellus, Italy is on the brink of civil war. Decius, who is serving his year as praetor (judge), decides to escape the tensions of Rome and tour the resort towns of Campania, doing a little judging and a lot of relaxing. But Campania too is in a ferment of political and ethnic strife. This comes to a head when the priests of a local temple of
Dec 14, 2013 Jane rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: myst
Decius Caecelius Metullus now is the praetor for cases involving foreigners, so he is all over Italy finding cases that will keep him out of Rome, which is on edge waiting for the power struggle between Caesar & Pompey to really get going. He is in Baiae with his wife & staff, having been lent a villa there. Pompey wants much of the land condemned, to give to his retiring legion. Most of the Caecelii are backing Pompey, but Decius is married to Caesar's niece and served with him in Gaul, ...more
Jay Sprenkle
Feb 15, 2014 Jay Sprenkle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, history
This series is about a fictional Roman citizen who solves murders as part of his duties of office. The author always provides a great setting and wonderful descriptions of life in Ancient Rome. You get a good mystery as well! I highly recommend the whole series.

The characters are believable and I find myself identifying with them. The author doesn't hide details you might need to solve the mystery. There's a good deal more than just the mystery so it has enough depth to be interesting.
Jun 10, 2012 Denise rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's the clash of religions in this story as our Roman detective, Decius Caecilius Metellus, and his wife, Julia, are sightseeing in southern Italy. It's a bitter rivalry between the priests of Apollo (in a remodeled temple above) and the followers of Hecate (who worship their goddess in the Oracle of the Dead in the tunnel below the Apollo temple). Murder of the head Apollo priest leads our hero to begin his investigation when the other Apollo priests are found in a second tunnel hidden near th ...more
Aug 29, 2015 Ian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lots of fun. This novel in the series is more amusing than most, even though it deals with multiple murder. Two competing temples, adjacent to each other. A conspiracy to defraud and murder pilgrims, for money (tsk tsk), set against the backdrop of the emerging civil war between Caesar and Pompey. The last year of the Republic.

Complex plot, amusing characters, fun.
Mar 28, 2009 Joy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of the SPQR series
Decius is having the time of his life traveling around Italy as Praetor Peregrinus, putting on counterfeit dignitas and judging cases in all the luxury towns. At the Temple of Apollo and Hecate, he becomes aware of the activities of a mass murderer. He is happy to focus on the mystery while he tries to ignore the threat posed by the impending clash between Caesar and Pompey. With Pompey in the district and Decius himself married to Caesar's niece, this isn't easy, but an arrow in his chest makes ...more
May 18, 2015 Georgene rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really like this series and am sad that I am coming to the end of it or at least as far as I can tell. I wish Roberts would write some more, but perhaps he's getting tired of the characters.
Lynn C. Thigpen
Nov 30, 2014 Lynn C. Thigpen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ordinary life in ancient Rome

A good mystery and a look at the Roman legal system. Educational while being very entertaining. Part of an outstanding series.
Jan 25, 2015 Kathy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
well done narrative that leaves reader wanting more
Mark Bruce
Dec 23, 2008 Mark Bruce rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
After a couple of so-so books, Roberts seems to have found his oats again. This fine little work takes place just as Ceaser is debating whether he'll cross the Rubicon. The Hero, Metellus, is far, far away down South doing Roman business as praetor. He stumbles into a mystery involving the murder of a coven of priests and finds himself staring down Pompeii and Roman politics. What is especially enjoyable about this series is Roberts' portrait of Julia, wife of Metellus and neice of Ceaser.
Decius is still traveling the south of Italy as praetor. He visits an oracle that includes a river and a body appears in that river. In usual fashion more bodies soon appear and complications ensue. Pompey gets involved and fears are growing about what happens when Caesar returns from Gaul which is shortly. This was a lot like the last entry in that it involves rich folks and politics are at a minimum. Still enjoyed reading it though
Brett Bydairk
Decius Caeciius Metellus takes the stage again in Book XII of the SPQR series. While visiting Baiae in his capacity of Praetor Peregrinus, Metellus finds the body of a priest of Apollo, to whom he had spoken only an hour previously. He begins his investigations with the help of his wife Julia (niece of the Divine Julius) and his freedman Hermes. Only after several more deaths and a near-successful attempt on his own life does he solve this perplexing mystery.
Vicki Cline
Dec 19, 2011 Vicki Cline rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: roman-mysteries
Once again, Decius Metellus plunges in where he shouldn't, trying to figure out who killed the priests of Apollo. As praetor peregrinus he shouldn't really involve himself, but he just can't resist. I love all of the SPQR mysteries and this is another good one.
Lance McMurchy
Jun 24, 2012 Lance McMurchy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a good one! there is plenty of intrigue and conflict as Decius works his way through a conflict between two religious cults. Lots of murder and mystery to keep the pages turning. With not the predicability of some of his earlier novels.

Jan 17, 2009 C.A. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book finds our hero judging cases in Southern Italy while deciding what to do about Ceasar and his showdown with the Senate. Fortunately he has the murder of a group of priests of Apollo to distract him.
Elena. (theresmiling)
My edition: German Audiobook - Audible exklusiv, gelesen von Erich Räuker
Jun 14, 2011 Xdw rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
another pretty good roman mystery
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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 IV: The Temple of the Muses (SPQR, #4)
  • 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)

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