Roman Games by Bruce Macbain
A Plinius Secundus Mystery

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Rome: September, 96 AD. When the body of Sextus Verpa, a notorious senatorial informer and libertine, is found stabbed to death in his bedroom, his slaves are suspected. Pliny is ordered by the emperor Domitian to investigate. However, the “Ludi Romani,” the Roman Games, have just begun and for the next fifteen days the law courts are in recess. If Pliny can’t identify the murderer in that time, Verpa’s entire slave household will be burned alive in the arena. Pliny, a very respectable young senator and lawyer, teams up with Martial, a starving author of bawdy verses and denizen of the Roman demimonde. Pooling their respective talents, they unravel a plot that involves Jewish and Christian ‘atheists, ‘ exotic Egyptian cultists, and a missing horoscope that forecasts the emperor’s death. Their investigation leads them into the heart of the palace, where no one is safe from the paranoid emperor. As the deadline approaches, Pliny struggles with the painful dilemma of a good man who is forced to serve a brutal regime—a situation familiar in our own age as well. The novel provides an intimate glimpse into the palaces and tenements, bedrooms and brothels of imperial Rome’s most opulent and decadent age.

About Bruce Macbain

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Bruce MacBain holds a BA in Classics from the University of Chicago and a Ph.D. in Ancient History from the University of Pennsylvania. He has taught Greek and Roman history at Vanderbilt University and Boston University. His special interest is religion in the Roman Empire. He enjoys travelling and was one of the first Peace Corps Volunteers to serve in Borneo. He lives with his wife in Brookline, MA. This is his first novel.
Published June 17, 2011 by Poisoned Pen Press. 273 pages
Genres: History, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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A respected Roman senator turns sleuth to solve a baffling closed-door mystery.

Sep 17 2010 | Read Full Review of Roman Games: A Plinius Secund...

The Bookbag

totally politically incorrect (even for those times) and determined to be sponsored by Pliny, regardless of what Pliny thinks.

Sep 03 2012 | Read Full Review of Roman Games: A Plinius Secund...

Open Letters Monthly

As soon as Pliny is introduced – facing the obligation of greeting his clients while dressed in a formal toga on a hot morning – two things become clear: first, this Pliny is just as thin-skinned and mundane as the epistolary one, and second, Macbain, for all his freshman status, knows exactly wh...

Oct 11 2010 | Read Full Review of Roman Games: A Plinius Secund...


Bruce MacBain is a welcome addition to the coterie of writers that write about Rome, but he has a hard road to follow.

Sep 01 2012 | Read Full Review of Roman Games: A Plinius Secund...

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