SPQR VI by John Maddox Roberts
Nobody Loves a Centurion

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Synopsis

Julius Caesar, as we know, arrived in Gaul (now France) and announced "I Came, I Saw, I Conquered," but when Decius Metellus arrives from Rome, not seeking military glory but rather avoiding an enemy currently in power, he finds that although the general came and saw, so far, at least, he has far from conquered. The campaign seems at a standstill.

Decius's arrival disappoints the great Caesar as well. He has been waiting for promised reinforcements from Rome, an influx of soldiers to restart his invasion. Instead he is presented with one young man ridiculously decked out in military parade finery and short on military skills, accompanied not by eager troops but by one callow and reluctant slave, the feckless Hermes.

It soon develops, however, that Decius's arrival was fortuitous. When Vinius, the army's cruelest centurion (so-called because he commands a hundred soldiers), is found murdered, Caesar remembers that his new recruit has successfully come up with the culprit in a number of recent crimes. Murder is bad for morale, particularly since it seems quite clear that the murderer was one of Caesar's men. Caesar orders Decius to find the killer -- and quickly.

Although evidence points to the son of one of Decius's clients -- a youth who was the particular target of the centurion's brutality, Decius racks his brain to find a way to save him from the sentence of death. The investigation leads Decius to two German slaves of the dead man -- a dwarfish old man and a beautiful woman. They are puzzling; the man is arrogant, the woman haughty--very unlike slaves. There are unanswered questions. It soon becomes clear to Decius that only by finding and punishing the real murderer will it be possible to quiet the rising dissatisfaction with Caesar's unorthodox method of warfare and forestall a mutiny against the mighty Caesar's authority and aims.

 

About John Maddox Roberts

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John Maddox Robert has written numerous works of science fiction and fantasy, in addition to his successful historical SPQR mystery series. His latest book in the series, SPQR VI: Nobody Loves a Centurion, will be published later this year. He lives in New Mexico with his wife.
 
Published September 17, 2001 by Minotaur Books. 224 pages
Genres: History, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for SPQR VI

Kirkus Reviews

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In the midst of his ceremonial departure, tribune Aetius Capito, a political enemy, puts a curse on Crassus and the city for sanctioning his expedition.

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Publishers Weekly

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The first line of Roberts's (Saturnalia) sixth SPQR mystery, "I blame it all on Alexander the Great," sets the tone for this briskly paced, lightheart

Aug 27 2001 | Read Full Review of SPQR VI: Nobody Loves a Centu...

Publishers Weekly

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The brisk 11th Decius Metellus Roman historical (after 2006's SPQR X: A Point of Law ) finds tensions increasing between Julius Caesar and Pompey.

Oct 01 2007 | Read Full Review of SPQR VI: Nobody Loves a Centu...

Publishers Weekly

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The political turmoil that precedes Julius Caesar's return to Rome serves as the compelling backdrop for Roberts's 10th historical to feature nobleman Decius Caecilius Metellus the Younger (after 2005's The Princess and the Pirates ).

Mar 06 2006 | Read Full Review of SPQR VI: Nobody Loves a Centu...

Publishers Weekly

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In Roberts's gripping ninth Roman historical (after 2004's The River God's Vengeance ), former aedile Decius Caecilius Metellus is dispatched from Rome by his patrician family to deal with a resurgence in piracy to Cyprus, where he encounters the young Cleopatra, whose true allegiances remain obs...

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Publishers Weekly

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In this delightful historical, the seventh of Roberts's SPQR books (after 2001's Nobody Loves a Centurion), Decius Caecilius Metellus has left service in Gaul with his uncle (by marriage), Julius Caesar, and returned home to Rome.

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Publishers Weekly

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Before leaving to recruit additional legions, Caesar assigns the task of uncovering the killer to Decius, who as usual proves a courageous and methodical sleuth.

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Reviewing the Evidence

Things get a bit hot for Decius Caecilius Matellus' when his bitter enemy becomes a Tribune in Rome - and therefore able to cause trouble for him - so Decius decides that now would be a good time to leave Italy and get those additional military qualifications he needs in order to be able to stand...

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