Wendy Dunn's Reviews > A Roman Death

A Roman Death by Joan  O'Hagan
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it was amazing
bookshelves: historical-fiction

Gentlemen, have you ever seen pictured in a still pool of water the definite formation of the hills and the sky surrounding it? How permanent such a picture looks. Yet interrupt the pool only slightly, question the durability of the picture with a tossed pebble and the whole picture breaks up and disappears. A Roman Death.


Years ago, when I unknowingly started my writing apprenticeship by reading every historical novel in my local library (true story), novels about Ancient Rome were high on the list of my sought-after books. That was not surprising. One of my favourite series of books as a teenager were Robert Graves’ unforgettable I, Claudius and Claudius the God.

A Roman Death gave me not only an opportunity to revisit ancient Rome, but also reminded me how much I love this period. The depth and breadth of O’Hagan’s knowledge of this long-ago world is seamlessly woven into the fabric of this story.


Set in 45 BC and in the time of Julius Caesar, A Roman Death is a brilliant whodunit. We know very soon in the story that Lucius Scaurus is the victim of poisoning, but who is murderer? That is something O’Hagan keeps under wraps until the very last pages. A Roman Death brings the world of Ancient Rome alive in all of its complexity – a world that is both noble and corrupted.

O’Hagan’s large cast of fascinating characters are all well drawn and three-dimensional. Lucius Scaurus in particular steps out on the stage as an unlikable human being which makes guessing his murderer even more difficult.

A Roman Death is an exquisitely drawn and expertly crafted historical novel – one that hoodwinks the reader into entering a world not their own and keeps them there until the final page is turned.

A crime novel which also functions as a social commentary on one of the most powerful civilisations in our history? O’Hagan shows it can be done.
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Reading Progress

August 15, 2020 – Started Reading
August 20, 2020 – Shelved
August 20, 2020 – Shelved as: historical-fiction
August 20, 2020 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-2 of 2 (2 new)

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Denise O'Hagan Thank you very much, Wendy! Delighted you enjoyed it :)


Wendy Dunn That I did!


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