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Rubicon
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In Saylors seventh novel set in ancient Rome (e.g., The House of the Vestals, St. Martins, 1997), the reader is once again caught up in a world of murder, intrigue, and history as Gordianus the Finder attempts to solve the murder of Pompeys cousin Numerius. The civilized world of 49 B.C.E. is in turmoil at the onset of the Roman Civil War. Julius Caesar has crossed the Rubicon River into Italy with his hand-picked troops. Pompey, his chief rival for control of Rome, has fled Rome with his followers from the Senate, and all is chaos as the people leave the city. Gordianuss task is made all the more difficult by his discovery that his son may be involved in a plot against Caesars life. This novel is an excellent blending of mystery and history. Although Rubicon will stand alone, be prepared for demand for Saylors other titles.Jane Baird, Anchorage Municipal Libs., AK

Even readers not drawn to historical settings should explore Saylor's impressive series (Murder on the Appian Way, etc.) set in ancient Rome. Saylor's protagonist, Gordianus the Finder, whom Cicero characterizes as "the most honest man in Rome," is an astute citizen and a detective for the Senate. An independent thinker, Gordianus has freed his slaves, marrying one, and adopted several orphans whom he has raised as his own sons. But at 61, the wily Gordianus finds his survival instincts pushed to the utmost, for Rome is on the verge of civil war and all must be careful with their alliances. Caesar has crossed the Rubicon with his army, and his rival, Pompey, the head of the Roman Senate, is about to abandon the city, leaving its citizens without laws and protection. In the midst of this turmoil, Pompey's favorite cousin and trusted courier is murdered in Gordianus's garden. Infuriated, Pompey orders the sleuth to find the killer, insuring his loyalty by impressing one of Gordianus's relatives into his own army. While Gordianus copes with this treacherous mix of family and politics, a heightened frenzy overtakes Rome as it awaits Caesar's possible invasion. Saylor writes about ancient Rome as naturally and comfortably as if he had lived there, capturing both its glory and brutality. Finely shadowed characters and an action-packed finale make this a praiseworthy addition to a series that deserves wide attention. Agent, Alan Nevins; author tour. (May)

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