Alethea's Reviews > Medicus

Medicus by Ruth Downie
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Mar 15, 12

Read in January, 2008

I read, intermittently, historical fiction, and I also read, intermittently, mystery books. While some of my very favorite authors cross both genres (Laurie R. King being the premier examples), I am fussy about both, and so tend to be leery of historical mysteries—most fail to work for me, as mysteries or as historical novels. This book is one of those rare examples of an excellent historical novel wrapped around an excellent mystery. It is fairly unconventional as a mystery, as it never actually settles into being a mystery. Gaius Petreius Ruso is a garrison doctor in Roman-occupied Britain, and has no interest whatever in conducting investigations. Mysterious bodies, however, end up coming his way, and he ends up asking the occasional question in spite of himself. While both the plot and the historical setting are convincing, what sets this book apart is the tone—it is wry and witty, without ever straying into anachronism. It ends up reading rather like M*A*S*H as set in Roman Britain, and I enjoyed it thoroughly and can’t wait to read the sequel.
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