Marfita's Reviews > Medicus

Medicus by Ruth Downie
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's review
Sep 23, 2011

it was ok
bookshelves: mysteries, period-mystery
Recommended to Marfita by: Goodreads Auto-thingie
Recommended for: fans of Stephen Saylor
Read from September 23 to 24, 2011

** spoiler alert ** I was totally misled (a word I learned from Nancy Drew, by the way) by the blurb on the back that compared this series to "those by Lindsay Davis and Stephen Saylor on the Ancient Rome beat but adds at bit more humor to the mix of period detail and suspense." I therefore expected a great deal of humor, but didn't find it. That was mostly because Davis's Falco stories are chock full of "humor," Saylor, not so much. So, this series is more like Saylor's but with more humor. Maybe it's just too subtle for an American. Lindsay Davis is an exceptionally hard act to follow. It was probably unfair to judge this book by my love for Falco and his escapades. I might read more in the series, but if they don't strike me as funny, I'll have to avoid them like I do Saylor's.

The series is set totally in Roman Britain, giving Downie a chance to make fun of British "cuisine" ever so briefly. Druids are being exterminated. Some Britains are accepting Roman citizenship and some are still causing trouble. Enter Gaius Petreius Ruso, an army doctor or medicus, whose life so far has not been very successful, mostly from an inability to put himself forward.

Ruso might build into a more amusing character, with his unimaginative, stick-up-his-whatsis demeanor, as the series goes on. His slave Tilla (a play on "useful" - apparently) is also stiff and unbending, so maybe they're made for each other. The secondary characters are certainly more entertaining. The co-Medicus and Ruso's roommate, Valens, is a stitch (pardon the pun), seeing everything from the humorous and reasonable side. He easily manipulates Ruso, whose mind is burdened with an estate with too many liens on it and isn't able to parallel process. His amanuensis Albanus has potential as well.

The climax is more of an argument over responsibility and the bad person evokes the deus ex machina of suicide that I find so annoying. It seems as if Downie wrote herself into a corner and used the tool of dialog to work it out, gave up, and left the dialog.

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Reading Progress

09/23/2011 page 117
29.0% "It isn't Falco, but I'm liking it so far."

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