Narrator: Simon Vance
Publisher: Blackstone Audio (2008)
Length: 7 hours 18 minutes
Series: Book 1 SPQR
Set in the 1st century ancient Rome, this murder mystery will have you hooked and wanting more. In the time of Crassus and Pompey, murder and intrigue are not that uncommon. However, their is the dual murders of an ex-slave and a foreign merchant that catch the eye of Decius Caecilius Metellus. He isn’t willing to write these deaths off so quickly.
When I was younger, I read several of these SPQR books in paperback. I just couldn’t get enough of them. I was very delighted to find them in audio and narrated by one of my favorite narrators, Simon Vance. This book is a great introduction to the series and our main hero and detective Decius. I really enjoy how the murder trail cuts through several levels of society. This book doesn’t focus on the rich and famous, but rather, makes them the backdrop to the rest of Roman society.
There is a bit of sex in this book. Or rather, there is plenty of sensuality that leads up to the sex, which is then mostly done behind a curtain. The lead up was very well done. There were drugs and alcohol and tumblers involved, so it was all a little fuzzy to Decius the next morning. Coinciding with that, I wish there were a few more female characters in the story. But that is my only quibble with this book.
The author does a great job of putting the reader in ancient Rome. The food and the clothes and the lack of modern plumbing are all there for the reader experience. Plus the author does a great job of showing societal norms of the time, which is important in understanding the mindset of the main characters. He doesn’t try to take modern morals and shove them into an ancient Roman character.
The Narration: Simon Vance was awesome as always. He had distinct voices for both males and females. He didn’t hesitate at all with the Latin phrases tossed in here and there.
What I Liked: Ancient Rome; murder mystery; the political intrigue; Decius’s cleverness; explores the various classes of Roman life.
What I Disliked: Could use a few more female characters.
What Others Think: