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Caveat Emptor

(Medicus Investigation #4)

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  2,080 ratings  ·  199 reviews
In her fourth novel, Ruth Downie brings to life the corruption and treachery of Roman-occupied Britain, as it closes in on her leading man, Gaius Petreius Ruso.

Ruso and Tilla, now newlyweds, have moved back to Britannia, where Ruso's old friend and colleague Valens has promised to help him find work. But it isn't the kind of work he'd had in mind-Ruso is tasked
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published December 21st 2010 by Bloomsbury USA (first published 2010)
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Average rating 3.97  · 
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 ·  2,080 ratings  ·  199 reviews

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S.J.A. Turney
Sep 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I suspect Ruso was my favourite investigator of crimes by the time I’d finished the first book in Ruth Downie’s Medicus series. The second book expanded this world to include darker themes and the wild north. And by the time Ruso went home to Gaul in the third book he was not only my favourite investigator, but one of my favourite characters in any book series. Left with something of an uncertain future at the end of that book, I wasn’t sure what to expect from the fourth book, other than being ...more
Jul 14, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Mystery & historical fiction fans
The fourth book in Ruth Downie’s mystery series about Gaius Petreius Ruso, erstwhile medicus of the XX Legion, finds him and his new bride Tilla (aka Darlughdacha) back in Britain. Wanting to get as far away from his family as possible, Ruso has returned to Londinium looking for a job. His friend Valens, another former legionary doctor, helpfully “volunteers” him for an assignment with the Procurator’s office. An assignment that has nothing to do with medicine: Julius Asper, Verulamium’s tax collector, ...more
Jan 30, 2019 rated it liked it
I would have rated this novel higher but I felt like the ending was very unfulfilling. I know there are more books to read in the series but I still like a novel to have a strong ending. In this one Ruso is an investigator and is trying to solve the murder of a tax man. It delves more into his and Tilla's relationship. It was good and I enjoyed reading it but not my favorite in the series.
Assaph Mehr
Dec 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Returning to the familiar and homey (albeit soggy) ground of Britain, Ruso's next adventure is not on the frontiers but rather closer to the centre of administration of the emerging province.

What to Expect

Charming and complex characters, well-researched details about Roman life in Roman Britain under Hadrian, murders and other nefarious deeds, a plot and sub-plots that twist and build up - all for a great read overall.

We get a look at the bureaucratic machinations of governance -
Jan 03, 2014 rated it liked it
This book is set in second century A.D. In this book of the series Ruso and Tila have returned to Britannia from their visit to Ruso’s family in Gael. Gaius Petreius Ruso, medic is now retired from the Roman Army and starting off his married life with Tila. He obtains an assignment as an investigator by the procurator’s finances office. Ruso is hired to trace the nearby city of Verulamium’s tax collector, who has disappeared with the city’s tax money. The book is more complex than prior books in ...more
Aug 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
Good story & narration.
another good one. The previous book had the couple in Gaul at his family's farm. They're back in Britain and on home ground. Twisty plot, a little confusing at times but it all comes together.
You need to read the series in order.
Kathy Davie
Dec 29, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery, history
Fourth in the Gaius Petreius Ruso Roman mystery series---the series keeps changing with more of a government and politics air than military in this installment.

Caveat Emptor begins oddly. I feel as though I've missed a story as, previously in Persona Non Grata, we're left believing Ruso and Tilla are off to Rome to track down stolen money instead, it's two years later and Ruso and Tilla are married, Ruso is unemployed, and, for some reason, they're sailing back to Britain (mostly for Tilla's sake I thin/>Caveat
Rachel Thompson
May 04, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: historical, mystery
To me this one was really a letdown in the series, which is sad because I spent more on this one than I really wanted to, and it was the shortest installment.

Ruso and Tilla have returned to Britannia where Valens has promised to find Ruso a job. When Ruso arrives, however, he learns the job is as an investigator rather than a doctor. By this time it should be no surprise that a mystery is afoot and bodies are piling up. And even though Tilla and Ruso are married, their relationship i
Rebecca Huston
In this, the fourth book in the Gaius Petreius Ruso novels, Ruso and his bride Tilla have returned to Britannia to start their lives as a married couple. However, it's not going to be as easy as it seems, as Ruso finds himself dragged into an investigation to find a missing tax-collector and more importantly, the money he was transporting. Along with that, there's rival native tribes, a very pregnant Iceni woman, native councils ready to betray each other for a denarii, and all sorts of mayhem. ...more
Old Firehouse Books
Apr 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Wow! I really enjoyed this book. It's apparently the fourth in the Medicus series, but this is the first one I've read. I will now go back and read the first three. The book's main character is a Roman doctor, recently discharged from the army. He has married a Scottish woman named Tilla, and the book takes place in the environs of London in the year AD 120. I loved how you could just dig into the historical details in the book- I felt like a time traveler. Tilla and Ruso, her husband, both have ...more
It seemed to me that Downie couldn't make up her mind as to who the villains were. First it was one of the councilmen. No, wait, it wasn't him it was a guard. No, wait, it wasn't the guard it was the other councilman. No, wait, it was the guard and the first councilman. By the time I reached the third turn around I was so thoroughly confused I couldn't remember half the evil deeds the bad guy (whoever that was) was supposed to have done.
Sep 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
I'm thankful that Ruso and Tilla have returned to Britiannia and was glad to see a few familiar characters return. The mystery was a bit more tense and the bad guys were more cutthroat than in previous books. This is possibly to do with the underlying motivation (greed) being more cold-hearted and the fact that there are infants and baby-making conversations going around. The mix feels dangerous and ominous.
Nov 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mysteries, historical
Antoher writer using the Roman empire as a setting. This is the latest book in a 4-book series and I have not read the other 3 yet. It is set in 2nd-century CE southern Britain, which was interesting. I found the plot to be complicated but I enjoyed the main character, although I don't find him as humorously cynical as Falco.
Jan 27, 2011 rated it liked it
It was good but did not feel as interesting as previous books in the series and I'm not sure why. Maybe there was too much about the politics or maybe the whole storyline was just a downer or just maybe I'm so sick of the snow and ice that nothing can penetrate the winter blahs. Was not happy with the way the Ruso/Tilla relationship is going. I liked it better when Ruso was with the legion.
Karen Klein
Jan 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: series
Ah, sadly I have now finished the last book in this series that has been written so far ..... I am hoping that there are further adventures of Ruso and Tilla in the near future.
Apr 18, 2019 rated it liked it
This is the first book in the series where Ruso is in the role of pure investigator, as opposed to doctor who somehow gets involved in mysteries. The book is a nice development of the series and I would highly recommend reading these books in order to get the most enjoyment from the book. This instalment had the best humour and also some of the most tenderest moments found in the entire series so far.

The humour, as usual, is gentle (although at several points I did laugh out loud) an
Andrew Doohan
Dec 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another wonderful contribution in the ongoing series of novels featuring Gaius Petreius Ruso, the sometime Medicus of Rome's 20th Legion in Britannia, though currently a private citizen.

Having returned from his home in Gaul with his wife, Ruso is in search of a source of income and so finds himself appointed to investigate some missing tax money from one of the Romanised towns north of Londinium. Seemingly a simple task, Ruso soon discovers murder, intrigue, betrayal, and rampant dishonesty
Oct 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
The fourth book in the Roman historical crime series by R S Downie, sees Doctor Gaius Petreius Ruso once again less a medic more an investigator. Originally published as 'Ruso and river of darkness', this story follows Ruso's return to Britain from Gaul, accompanied by his wife Tilla a native Brit, where he once again fails to find work in his given field but is recruited to solve a crime. This time he is tasked with locating the town of Verulamium’s missing payment to Rome and the apparent coin ...more
Feb 05, 2018 rated it liked it
Pleasant read, but I found it rougher going than I had anticipated. The tone of the Ruso books tends to be pretty light, but the plot of this one was a lot darker, and more complicated, than I remembered the previous books being; so the dissonance between the tone and the plot got to me a little. I also don't love the Ruso/Tilla relationship when I'm supposed to take it all really seriously (which, with the emphasis on Tilla's desire for a baby and (view spoiler)Pleasant read, but I found it rougher going than I had anticipated. The tone of the Ruso books tends to be pretty light, but the plot of this one was a lot darker, and more complicated, than I remembered the previous books being; so the dissonance between the tone and the plot got to me a little. I also don't love the Ruso/Tilla relationship when I'm supposed to take it all really seriously (which, with the emphasis on Tilla's desire for a baby and (view spoiler), I think I was) - it's kind of sitcommy "women are like this and men are like this" so when all of a sudden it's a deathless love for the ages I'm left a little bewildered. Also, shouldn't Ruso have figured out that Tilla can take care of herself by now? Shouldn't they communicate with each other a little bit better by this point in their relationship? ...more
D.L. Morrese
Feb 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Between book #3 and book #4, Tilla and Russo get married, Russo leaves the Roman Legion, and they go back to Britannia. Ruso wants to work as a doctor, but his friend Valens gets him a job as an investigator. A local woman, a descendant of the infamous Boudica, has just given birth, and the father, a tax collector for Rome, is missing (along with his brother) and suspected of running off with the tax money he was supposed to deliver to Londinium. With no other immediate job prospects, Russo agre ...more
Aug 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a really engaging historical mystery series. Ruso is a Roman surgeon who, in this book, is back from a visit to his family in Gaul and finds himself without a job. He was on leave from the Army and his contract ran out. At lose ends in Londinium he finds himself hired to investigate missing tax monies and the tax collector who was in charge of it.

This series has totally drawn me in. I enjoy the details that bring this period of British history to life. The characters are inte
H Gibson
Jan 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Book four in the series portrayed an elaborate, enjoyable mystery as well as the continued trials Ruso endures with Tilla, Metellus, his family, Valens, Albanus, the Roman government, the British barbarians, etc. When other series have lagged by book four, Caveat Emptor picked up with some force in storytelling. I like Ruso as the reluctant investigator, but I hope the backbone he had in this book has he handled certain people and issues grows. He could take a few lessons from Sano Ichiro in how ...more
Aug 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This, the 4th in the Ruso/Tilla antiquarian Roman empire series, is the author's best yet. Her ability to showcase setting as a plot element is (as usual) exceptional. Her characterizations of both main characters as well as secondary ones continues to shine. This novel stands-out with her background study of political/govermental problems in 1st century England. Completely woven into the central plot, which BTW is her best yet. Satisfying conclusion. I'm looking forward to completing the remain ...more
Debra Duhoux
Jun 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Always a Good a Story

I've been plodding along reading this series in between other books. I'm always happy to be back with Ruso and Tilla. This story was informative as usual. I learn plenty about Ancient Rome through these books. Each one is set in a different town so the location is different and Ruso's job has been varied. These two protagonists are ordinary people doing everyday things. There's a mystery to solve but that does not take over the story. I will continue with the series and
Susan Bartl
Nov 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
I have read other ancient Rome mysteries by Steven Saylor (Gordianus the Finder) and Lindsey Davis (Marcus Didius Falco) so I began to read this series by Ruth Downie. Most of the books take place in Britannica which is a nice change of place from Rome. I have enjoyed the series enough to keep reading.
Feb 09, 2019 rated it liked it
Another entertaining mystery set in Britain under Roman occupation. I enjoy the main character Ruso, who is a doctor, and his insights on healing as well as his clueless fascination with his wife, Tilla. Tilla is a princess of one of the conquered tribes in Northern England.
Always good for a chuckle, this plot was not as engaging as some, but still very enjoyable.
Bonnie Wilson
Sep 23, 2017 rated it liked it
This was entertaining and I would definitely read more in the series. I have some minor quibbles, but I enjoyed it.

The book is not immersive in the way that the best historical fiction can be, but the protagonist is likable. The "mystery" plot becomes a bit muddled and unwieldy but it really doesn't matter that much. It's a quick, light read.
Aug 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
In this fourth installment I thought the story was better crafted than the previous ones. Ruso didn't bumble around through the entire book until he suddenly hit upon the solution. I was about to give up on this series but this installment showed growth in both the writing skill and the character development.
Ellen Dark
Aug 17, 2019 rated it liked it
Educational and entertaining historical mystery set in Roman Britain. If I read a series one after another, I would read the next instalment right away, but I don't, so the next one will have to wait.
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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)
  • Persona Non Grata (Gaius Petreius Ruso, #3)
  • Semper Fidelis (Gaius Petreius Ruso, #5)
  • Tabula Rasa (Gaius Petreius Ruso, #6)
  • Vita Brevis (Medicus Investigation #7)
  • Memento Mori (Medicus Investigation #8)
“There were many things a man might think he should be told when a woman agreed to marry him. She had choose not to mention several of them” 3 likes
“From somewhere in the garden came a burble of childish laughter. He [Ruso] reached forward, put his arms around her [Tilla’s] waist and rested his head against the belly that was not holding his baby, and perhaps never would. “Everyone else,” he said. “Why not us?” 0 likes
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