When Ruso and his wife Tilla head home to the old farm in southern Gaul, they aren’t expecting to arrive in the middle of a family crisis. Little sister Flora’s boyfriend, a freeman and wheelwright, has been accused of murdering his aristocratic half-brother, and Flora is beside herself to rescue him from execution. Can Ruso use his medical skills and powers of deduction to pin the crime on another suspect, or will he be more successful in disencumbering Flora from her dubious relationship?
I have not read the eight books leading up to this novella, but since this one was free on Kindle Unlimited (and since I love Lindsey Davis’ Falco series, also about a Roman gumshoe), I decided to give it a whirl. The characters are convincing, particularly the much-put-upon Ruso. British-born Tilla charms with her clever ways of getting around Ruso’s express dictates, her terrible cart-driving skills, and her sympathetic heart. The mystery was well-done, containing enough red herrings and foreshadowing to make a satisfying tale. Although the world is not quite as immersive as Falco’s (perhaps because of the limited scope of a novella), I’m looking forward to exploring more of this series to see what the full-length novels are like.