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Persona Non Grata

(Medicus Investigation #3)

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  2,806 ratings  ·  267 reviews
The third novel in the acclaimed Gaius Petreius Ruso series by the New York Times bestselling Ruth Downie—this time set in ancient Gaul.

Ruth Downie is published as R.S. Downie in the UK, and this book is available there under the title Ruso and the Root of All Evils.

At long last, Gaius Petreius Ruso and his companion, Tilla, are headed home—to Gaul. Having received a note
Hardcover, 348 pages
Published July 7th 2009 by Bloomsbury USA (first published 2008)
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Description: At long last, Gaius Petreius Ruso and his companion, Tilla, are headed home—to Gaul. Having received a note consisting only of the words “COME HOME!” Ruso has (reluctantly, of course) pulled up stakes and brought Tilla to meet his family.

But the reception there is not what Ruso has hoped for: no one will admit to sending for him, and his brother Lucius is hoping he’ll leave. With Tilla getting icy greetings from his relatives, Lucius’s brother-inlaw mysteriously drowned at
Assaph Mehr
Dec 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Back in his ancestral home at Nemausus (Nîmes), Ruso is trying to untangle family finances, young loves, and old grudges. In between he gets involved (reluctantly!) in investigating a death (because it happened in his house), tries to find employment as a medic with local gladiatorial arena, keep his partner away from strange new cults - and generally miss the simple life in god-forsaken, rainy Britannia.

What to Expect

Charming and complex characters, well-researched details about Roman life in 2
Gaius Petreius Ruso's penchant for falling into mysteries and his hapless relationships with former wives, family members and strong-willed British women continues to please.

This third installment of Ruth Downie's series finds Ruso called back to his family's estates in Gaul by a terse letter ostensibly sent by his brother Lucius. The family has been pressured by its creditors ever since Ruso's father's death but things take a decided turn for the worse when the agent of one of the largest credi
Jamie Collins
Another enjoyable historical mystery from Downie. Our hero Gaius Petreius Ruso receives a mysterious letter beckoning him home to Gaul, only to find that when he arrives he is a persona non grata - not particularly welcomed by his family, which consists of a harried brother, an excessively fertile sister-in-law, two romantically frustrated sisters, and a step-mother who embraces the concept that ignorance is bliss. Not to mention an ex-wife who has "made some very bad decisions in the last few y ...more
2019 bk 84. In this 3rd of the series, I thought to have a view of life in France during the Roman empire. I did receive that. I learned a little more about small town politics (not too terribly different from now), more about medicine of the era, more about vineyards and preparing wine (again not too different from now). What I did not expect was several short scenes that would change the way I though about how and why Christianity spread across Europe from the middle east. We have Paul's story ...more
Goodreads freebie (Thanks!) This is the third book in a series about Gaius Ruso. I have not read the others - normally I prefer to read a series in order -- but this one can be read without having read the others.

Gaius Ruso is a medical officer with the Roman Legion serving in Britain when he receives an obscure message ostensibly from his brother, Lucius, demanding that he return to Roma at once. Easier said than done, since the voyage home required more than a month of sea and overland travel.
Sep 28, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: armchair-historian or anyone who enjoys a great classic mystery
I have been a fan of Ruth Downie since I randomly selected her second novel, Terra Incognita, from my local library a few months ago. Her characters are endearing, her mysteries compelling, and her use of historical elements enthralling.

This book is my favorite of the three Ruso novels. Like the previous two, it follows Gaius Petreius Ruso, a doctor in the Roman army, and his lover Tilla, a "barbarian girl" from Britannia. This time, Ruso is summoned home to Gaul by a cryptic letter from his bro
So Roman Britain doesn’t look that bad when you are dealing with massive debts, a sneaky loan collector, a ship wreck, and clogged drains. This entry into the series concerns both the Medicius and Tilla returning to the family home. The mystery really isn’t that mysterious, but the characters and interactions make up for the predictable plot. Part of the fun is watching Tilla’s introduction to fledging religion of Christianity.

Crossposted at Booklikes.
Mar 12, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This third installment of Ruth Downie's Roman Empire series is the best so far. I always have a hard time describing to friends why these books are so entertaining. In simple terms they are historical fiction mysteries. The mysteries are engaging; in fact this was the most interesting mystery yet. In this book Ruso heads home to his family farm bringing along his British girlfriend/housekeeper Tilla. Once there the couple gets drawn into solving the poisoning death of the man who just so happens ...more
Amy Raby
Dec 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I originally gave this 4 stars but I'm bumping it up to 5 because I can't get this book out of my head. I don't normally read a lot of mysteries (I'm more into SFF and romance). I picked this up because it was on sale and I'm fascinated with the ancient world, especially the Roman Empire, and I figured for $2, why not give it a try? Now I'm kind of obsessed and I want to read the whole series.

This is book 3. I hadn't read the first two, and it didn't matter; I jumped in without a problem. Gaius
Kathy Davie
Feb 26, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery, history
This is the third in the ancient Roman, military-mystery series, Gaius Petreius Ruso, Persona Non Grata sets up Ruso's response to an urgent letter from home. A response that, on the surface, seems disastrous to the financial well-being of Ruso's family.

Arranging leave from the Twentieth Legion, Ruso takes Tilla home to Nemausus in Narbonensis (modern-day Nimes) where he proceeds to stick his foot in it right and left with his ex-wife and ex-father-in-law; his missing brother-in-law; the cousin,
Apr 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is my favorite book in the series so far. I did figure out "who done it" early in the book, but it took me awhle to figure out the "what, where and why" portion.

I LOVED the author's description of an early Christian meeting as seen from a barbarian's perspective. "When most of the food was gone and one of the old women had hidden half a loaf of bread under her shawl, it was time to pray to ghe god again...As the prayers rambled on she began to wish that, since this god was everywhere, his f
May 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
Another amusing historical mystery by Ruth Downie. In this one, Ruso brings Tilla home to meet his dysfunctional family. Unfortunately, Tilla finds that he has neglected to mention her existence, Ruso finds his brother has neglected to mention that the family is about to lose all their assets, and his sister has neglected to mention that she's in love with a gladiator. Horrible social mishaps merrily ensue. And then the man who owns the family debt dies suspiciously in their home. Here we go!

A delightful series… while not exactly weighty historical fiction, the setting and behaviors are obviously well researched and about as true to the Roman period as any others I've come across. The characters are never jarringly modern even though they share the same emotions and concerns as any era including our own. I've become very fond of the medicus, Gaius Petrious Ruso… who struggles to practice his primitive form of doctoring with any dignity, partly because of his meddlesome barbarian lov ...more
Sep 07, 2018 rated it it was ok
I really enjoyed the second book in the series, but this one was a disappointment. Ruso is summoned home to Gaul to deal with a mysterious family crisis, and he takes Tilla with him. Virtually every member of his family was extremely obnoxious and they treated Tilla like dirt. Unfortunately part of the story involved the gladiator ring, which I really don’t enjoy at all. I probably wouldn’t have finished this one if I hadn’t been reading it for a challenge. Hopefully Tilla and Ruso will be back ...more
H Gibson
Nov 27, 2017 rated it liked it
I'm enjoying the Medicus series, and the detail to research makes the books all the more enjoyable. They fit right in with my love of a good historical novel. I just wish Ruso would get a backbone every now and then.
Tracy Woolford
Feb 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Fun to follow the characters to new destinations and enjoyed the murder mystery more in this one. Also nice to see Tilla come into her own a little more.
In Persona Non Grata, the third in Ruth Downie’s Medicus series set in second-century Roman Britannia, Gaius Petreius Ruso and his British companion Tilla (also known as Darlughdacha of the Corionotatae among the Brigantes) travel to southern Gaul, summoned by an ominous letter that says only, “Lucius to Gaius. Come home, brother.” As their father’s heir and effective (if not necessarily effectual) paterfamilias, Ruso has known for some time of his family’s precarious financial situation, legacy ...more
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Aug 07, 2009 rated it liked it
This is one of those times when having half a star would be useful, because for most of the novel I was definitely in 4 star territory, but when I got to the ending it dropped back to a 3. And it's not the solving of the mystery itself that was problematic, but in tying up the other loose ends of the story it felt like the author ran out of steam and things happened too easily. Though, of course, I encourage you to read and decide for yourself.

Persona Non Grata is a historical mystery novel set
S.J.A. Turney
Sep 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing

I have a growing fondness for historical mysteries rather than the straightforward military novels or sagas or character biographies. Over the past year or two I have discovered Robin Blake, William Ryan, Luke McCallin, D.E. Meredith and others. But my favourite series is still Ruth Downie’s Ruso books. I read the first two a while back, but have simply not found the time to catch up with the series. Well last week I decided to change that since for once I did not have anything to read to a dead
Jan 01, 2010 rated it did not like it
"I find that in order to best write most of these reviews, I have to give myself a few days to process what I've read. This book falls into this category. My initial impression was that I was unsatisfied with Ruso and Tilla and the entire setting. All of the characters' actions seemed too...modern - sitting at a desk, receiving mail, looking over the bills, and so forth. The language, however, is what really bothered me. It was as if our current vernacular was taken and put into a Roman or Gauli ...more
May 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
Great series for those who enjoy historical settings and quirky characters. It's a physician of classical Rome, Russo, and his Britain "barbarian" handmaid, Tilla. They care for one another in a warm, funny and true way. They solve family problems, as well as murders. Great beach read.
Lis Carey
Ruso has just injured his foot attempting to rescue a boy from the river (the boy manages to save himself) when an uncharacteristically brief and urgent letter arrives from his brother Lucius: Come home immediately. In a panic about what new disaster is so awful Lucius won't even hint at it, he wangles extended medical leave, and he and Tilla pack up and head for southern Gaul.

Their arrival is a complete surprise, and not a welcome one. One of their major creditors is threatening a bankruptcy ac
Aug 03, 2009 rated it really liked it
ARC received through the First Reads giveaway program.

I'll admit it: I'm not a huge mystery fan. But when I saw this book posted as a giveaway, I was intrigued. I am very fond of historical fiction.

Although I did not read the previous books in the series, I now want to go back and read them... and then maybe read Persona Non Grata again. I really liked reading about Ruso the army doctor, his housekeeper/lover Tilla, and his annoying family in Narbonensis. Ruso is drawn into a mystery surrounding
Dec 22, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: cozy, mystery, humour
Downie is definitely over her sophomore slump as this mystery is up to the caliber of Medicus, the book that started this series. Quirky situations, humorous outcomes and an unexpected conclusion are all the things I’ve come to expect with our main character Gaius Petreius Ruso and that is exactly what I got. What was particularly amusing were his dealings with his ex-wife and ex-father-in-law—boy he sure knows how to pick ‘em! And as always, historical aspect of the book was fun too.

Gaius Petr
Kathy Trueman
May 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The third book of this excellent series by Ruth Downie finds Ruso, the hapless hero of the tales, summoned home to Gaul by an urgent message from his brother. Or so he thinks. He isn't expected but is welcomed by his deliciously dysfunctional family. Naturally, being Ruso, he becomes involved in a murder, much too closely, since Ruso himself is a suspect and the victim was the husband of Ruso's ex-wife.

While Ruso tries to untangle all the threads connected with the murdered man and at the same t
Sharon A.
Aug 16, 2009 rated it liked it
I received this book as a Goodreads giveaway, and when I received the book in the mail and realized it was 3rd in a series, I though I was in trouble, as I hadn't read the first two.

I started it, however, and was quickly drawn into the story. The series follows Gaius, a military doctor, and his lover, Tilla. It is set in early Brittania and Gaul. While its set in ancient times, the book has a modern feel. Gaius has returned to his family home after receiving a note asking for his help in sortin
Brian Maicke
Aug 22, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery, historical, roman
Downie's third effort in the Medicus series. This installment follows Ruso, a medical officer in the Roman Legions, as he is urgently summoned home to help handle a family financial crisis. When one of the family's principal creditors winds up dead in the family home, Ruso must work to clear his family name.

Ruso's family was a bit too whiny and oblivious to their predicament. I realize a large part of the story is how the troubles are kept from the family, but it is clear that they have some kno
Lance McMurchy
Apr 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
This was quite an interesting dialectic of a barbarian, that been Tilla, coming to an established roman town in Southern Gaul. The book introduced Christianity and the different conflicts it created in the early pagan roman empire. As well as the whole engineering marvels of amphitheater, villas, temples and such like, from which Tilla found somewhat intimidating. On a whole, this was done quite well.

The murder mystery was don quite well, too. The author was able to keep me thinking through out
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Ruth is the author of nine mysteries* featuring Roman Army medic Gaius Petreius Ruso and his British partner Tilla. The latest is a novella, PRIMA FACIE. She lives in Devon, England. A combination of nosiness and a childish fascination with mud means she is never happier than when wielding an archaeological trowel.

She is sometimes called R.S. Downie, but she isn't the person with the same name wh

Other books in the series

Medicus Investigation (8 books)
  • Medicus (Gaius Petreius Ruso, #1)
  • Terra Incognita (Gaius Petreius Ruso, #2)
  • Caveat Emptor (Gaius Petreius Ruso, #4)
  • Semper Fidelis (Gaius Petreius Ruso, #5)
  • Tabula Rasa (Gaius Petreius Ruso, #6)
  • Vita Brevis (Medicus Investigation #7)
  • Memento Mori (Medicus Investigation #8)

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“But what if---
Most of what if never happens.”
“Do you know what emperors do, Tilla?'
That was easy. 'Send soldiers to steal the land and make us pay taxes.”
More quotes…