Lucinda's Reviews > Medicus

Medicus by Ruth Downie
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Sep 12, 11

Read in February, 2011

Medicus (2007, APA: Medicus and the Disappearing Dancing Girls, Ruso and the Disappearing Dancing Girls) introduces Gaius Petreius Ruso, a Roman army physician in second century Roman Britain, who has transfered to the 20th Legion in the remote Britannia port of Deva (now Chester, England) to start over after a divorce and the death of his father have left him with a huge pile of debts. When a dish of bad oysters disables one of the other doctors, Ruso works a two-day shift at the hospital, including an examination of a young woman’s body pulled from the river, and then visits a tavern for a large glass of wine to help him unwind, where he hears about a missing dancing girl. While staggering home, Ruso comes across Tilla, an injured Britain slave girl, rescues her from her abusive owner, surgically restores her shattered arm bones, and takes advantage of an empty room at the hospital to let her recover. The return of the vacationing hospital administrator, Priscus, upsets this arrangement, and Ruso finds himself owning a slave who won’t speak and can’t cook. As Tilla recovers her health and regains her beauty, Priscus convinces Ruso to use her as collateral for his loan, which he plans to collect at the first opportunity. Meanwhile, Ruso’s questions about the dead woman and the missing dancing girl have precipitated a rumor that the new medicus cares enough to investigate crimes against the Britain slaves, causing Ruso no end of problems with the military and the tavern keeper. Tilla, courageous yet terrified of mice, gradually comes to trust Ruso, forensically brilliant yet social inept, but neither believe they have a future together. Life in Roman Britain is brought to vivid life in this wryly humorous series opener.
Ruth Downie page at SYKM

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