Vita Brevis by Ruth Downie

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When I was asked if I would read – review Vita Brevis, the latest in Ruth Downie’s Medicus series, I was more than happy to comply.  When it was mentioned that I would be part of a Blog Tour to promote Vita Brevis, I thought, great, more exposure for this humble but enlightening book review blog.  When I found out who was also on this tour, I almost fainted.  I am in the company of the elite.  To use baseball terminology, it’s like I’m a September call-up to a team of the Major League’s heaviest hitters.  Well, no matter, I’ll put on my big boy pants and do my best….perhaps I’ll offer sacrifices to my Muse for extra guidance.  🙂

I’ve read my share of Roman whodunit books; Lindsey Davis (Falco) -Steven Saylor (Gordianus) – David Wishart (Corvinus) – JM Roberts (Decius) and of course Ruth Downie and her medical sleuth, Ruso.  What I like about these various characters is that while there are many similarities among them, foremost is the fact that they are doing detective work, there are enough differences in time, place and social station for the authors to compose unique mystery situations.  Thus we find Ruso and Tilla in Rome.  What’s so unique about that you may ask?  Well, having spent the last few years in Britannia as a Medical Officer in the 20th Legion and used to managing hospitals, clinics and dealing with the aftermath of battles, Ruso now faces a private practice that is anything but manageable.  A missing doctor, an unlooked for delivery, nosy and mean neighbors, overbearing landlords, an outlaw religious sect holding prayer meetings in the apartment above you and the general hustle and bustle that is Rome; these are just some of the things that Ruso and Tilla have to deal with.  Setting up a new practice is hard enough without being tasked with locating the missing doctor, nor does the mysterious death of an important person make it any easier. In a thoroughly entertaining way the author spreads clues and subtle hints and leads the reader down many trails to the truth.  Witty, poignant, charming, hopeful and riddled with doubt are some of the traits that permeate the narrative.  Through it all, the city of Rome is in the background; street corner charlatans, irritable crowds, bakery smells, slave auctions; all providing the perfect touches to a page turning delight.    5 stars and the highly sought after Hoover Book Reviews highest recommendation.  🙂

 

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Vita-Brevis-Crime-Empire-Medicus/dp/1620409585/ref=tmm_hrd_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr

 

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 Vita BREVIS
A Gaius Ruso Mystery
By Ruth Downie
22nd September 2016
hardback – £16.99
Bringing both the majesty and depravity of ancient Rome to life, Ruth Downie concocts
a delicious mix of crime novel, mystery, and history lesson in the latest novel in her
bestselling Medicus series, VITA BREVIS.
“Downie writes with her usual humor and depth . . . Perfect for fans
of the Falco novels by Lindsey Davis, this entertaining New York
Times best-selling series and its endearing characters deserve as
long a run” —Booklist
“A deftly crafted and consistently compelling read from beginning
to end, ‘Vita Brevis’ clearly establishes author Ruth Downie as a
consummate and accomplished master of historical crime fiction” —
Midwest Book Review
Ruso and Tilla’s excitement at arriving in Rome with their baby daughter is soon dulled by
their discovery that the grand facades of polished marble mask an underworld of corrupt
landlords and vermin-infested tenements.
Ruso finds that his predecessor Doctor Kleitos has fled, leaving a dead man in a barrel on
the doorstep with the warning, ‘Be careful who you trust’. Distracted, Ruso makes a grave
mistake, causing him to question his own competence and integrity.
With Ruso’s reputation under threat, he and Tilla must protect their small family by tracking
down the vanished doctor – and discovering the truth behind the man in the barrel.
VITA BREVIS is brimming with humor, clever plot twists, and evocative historical details, as
Ruth Downie follows her beloved characters in their next adventure.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ruth Downie is the author of the New York Times bestselling Medicus, as well as Terra
Incognita, Persona Non Grata, Caveat Emptor, Semper Fidelis, and Tabula Rasa. She is
married with two sons and lives in Devon.
Follow her at ruthdownie.com and on Twitter @ruthsdownie.
Praise for VITA BREVIS
“Masterfully draws out its suspense, painting a vivid portrait of ancient Rome that
feels persuasive and authentic”
—Kirkus Reviews
“Downie’s plotting is as engaging as ever… much more than a mystery novel”
—Historical Novel Society
“Reading ‘Vita Brevis’ felt like catching up with old friends”
—Italophile Book Reviews
Praise for ruth downie and the medicus series
“Attention to day-in-the-life period details, judiciously doled-out twists, and dry
British humor . . . One hell of a toga party” —Entertainment Weekly
“Wonderfully entertaining” —Newsweek
“Places Downie alongside such established masters of the Roman historical as
Steven Saylor and Rosemary Rowe” —Publishers Weekly
“Ruso rocks. Let’s hear it for those Romans” —Kirkus Reviews
“Downie’s attention to detail—both historical detail and human detail—makes this
series a joy to read for the mystery lover, the classics fan, or anyone seeking more
character-driven genre fiction” — Historical Novel Society
Ruth Downie is available for interview and feature writing.
For more information please contact:
Joseph Thomas
joseph.thomas@bloomsbury.com – 020 7631 5863

 

 

 

 

 

 

Medicus by Ruth Downie

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Once again I find myself late to the party as I have only just now started reading about Gaius Petreius Ruso, a Roman Legion Doctor and the protagonist in this delightful tale.  The author has produced a character that is seemingly a competent, if not a good physician, who finds himself drawn into the search for the killer(s) of two prostitutes.  However, unlike some other fictional sleuths of ancient Rome, Lindsey Davis’ Falco or Steven Saylors’ Gordianus for example, Ruso is not so keen on being a detective.  He is too concerned about other things like his financial problems, or his somewhat regrettable purchase of an injured slave woman but as the story goes on he cannot help but becoming involved in an unofficial investigation.  The characters in the book are well written, the day to day existence in an occupied/pacified town in Britain is done nicely with both the seriousness of the situation and with the humor she injects into the narrative.  Being a would be author myself,I particularly love the difficulties Ruso has in trying to write a concise first aid book for the army…brought many a smile to my face.

As to rating the book, as I read the first half I was leaning to a 4 star rating but the second half of the book made me change my mind and so I have given it 5 stars and I already have the second book in the series loaded in my Kindle.  🙂