Tom's Reviews > Medicus

Medicus by Ruth Downie
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Jan 24, 11

Read from January 18 to 24, 2011

Set in Britain under Roman rule, circa 1st century, AD, "Medicus" follows Gaius Ruso - legionnaire, doctor and reluctant detective. Divorced with a lot of family money problems, Ruso becomes the unwilling owner of an injured slave. This gets him wrapped up in a lot of intrigue at a local pub.

While I set out to enjoy the historical setting, the story took only superficial cues from it. This murder/mystery could have been told in any other time period or location with only minor changes. I always have a problem with fictional characters from hundreds or thousands of years ago who have political and social attitudes that obviously reflect 21st century values. Ruso in this story may as well be a doctor in 2010 Chicago (slave owning and writing in wax tablets aside).

I suppose that a 1st century Roman doctor, described accurately, wouldn't be a very likeable fictional character - he'd be ignorant, misogynistic, chauvinist & racist, at least from our modern perspective. Ruso is none of those things. That makes him likeable, but probably not historically accurate.

However, if you don't read this as historical fiction, it's enjoyable as a light murder-mystery.
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