PERSONA NON GRATA by Ruth Downie

Persona non grata  Number three in the series by Ruth Downie of Roman-occupied Britain in the 800s.  Our Medicus, Gaius Petreius Ruso, army doctor, has taken his former slave, now lover, to Gual in response to a letter requesting his immediate return.   Expecting the worst, that is exactly what Ruso finds there, as his brother and wife, their five children, his clueless step mother and whining teenage sisters are caught up in a problem involving money … or rather, lack of it.

In addition, the brother of his sister-in-law, has apparently been lost at sea on a leaky ancient boat, which needs investigating.

The oldest of his sisters, a 16-year old, is in love with a gladiator, and here we learn more than we probably want to know about the gladiator business and the bread and circuses thing.  It’s very eeuuuies, the kind of information I try to avoid knowing.  I know,  Ostrich is my middle name.

The deceased father had incurred massive debts, which are now being called due, and just as the Senator holding the big notes is about to make a deal with Ruso, he collapses dead in Ruso’s office, a victim of poisoning.

Of course, Ruso is the prime suspect, and the book is concerned with his (and Tilla’s) attempts to find the truth about the missing guy at sea and who did the poisoning.

Another delightful episode in the series, with more interesting glimpses into how people lived in those times, this time in  Gallia Narbonensis.

Omnes Gallia tres partes divisa est.   That is all I remember from my three years of Latin classes.  Oh, yeah, and Iacta alea est”, inquit Caesar.  “The die is cast”, said Caesar.

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