Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Ghosts of Glevum by Rosemary Rowe

Book 6 of the Libertus series, and it threw me for another surprise! I really think that Rosemary Rowe got more confident after book 4 and started taking more risks. Book 5 and Book 6 have been more original in terms of the mystery and the situations that Libertus gets in.

In book 6, Libertus gets to explore the underside of society. When the guest of honor dies, Marcus, Libertus' patron, is accused as the murderer. When the charges are escalated to conspiracy against the Emperor, Libertus has to find the real culprits before everything is too late. Oh, and at the same time, he's being hunted down, so he can't investigate as normal.

So why is the book called The Ghosts of Glevum? Because Libertus is thrown together with a group of beggars, thieves and the lowest of the low. Those are the people that he has to pay for any scrap of information.

And I'm not sure if that makes me a callous person, but I had absolutely no sympathy for the ghosts of Glevum. I know that they have to eke out a living any way they can, but their opportunism and lack of charm makes it awfully hard for me to sympathise with them. In fact, it's only at the very end of the book that one of them (only one) does something that we can call "generous".

Mystery-wise, it's a bit disappointing. Since Libertus spends most of the book on the run from the law, there's very little investigating going around. In fact, I re-read the ending a few times, and I still don't understand how Libertus managed to piece it all together.

Overall, this is a pretty good story. It's an interesting look at the darker side of Roman Britain (remember, read the introduction so you know how much of it is accurate). Mystery-wise, it was meh, and I'm hoping the next book ramps up the investigating and the deducing again.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Legatus Mystery by Rosemary Rowe

We're at Book 5 of the Legatus series, and oh my, it's totally different from the first four books! For one thing, there isn't a body - at least not at first.

When the Emperor sends a Roman Ambassador to Glevum, everyone is thrown into a tizzy getting ready. Unfortunately for the priests of the Imperial Cult, there's a dead body in the temple (incidentally also the temple of Jupiter). But when Libertus goes to investigate, the body disappears. And then reappears. And in the meantime, blood appears out of nowhere, and a ghostly wail is heard throughout town.

The set-up alone makes it different from the previous four books, but there's an added twist here. Libertus is hunted down by a mob. The series sees probably the most action so far as Libertus has to out-think and out-run a mob with help from Junio and his wife. It certainly kept me glued to the book, flipping page after page after page.

Plus, the characters in this book are interesting. I don't think more than one new character will become a recurring character in the series, but their personalities made a strong impression on me.

By the way, it is worth reading the introduction in this book. Since the book deals with the Imperial Cult, history purists will be interested in seeing which sections of the book are accurate and which sections were made up by the author.

I think this book makes for a nice change in the series. The murder mystery is unusual, Libertus doesn't get to do what he normally does, yet somehow, he manages to solve it. I am definitely more motivated to read on after this.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Teaser Tuesday - A Coin for the Ferryman by Rosemary Rowe

This is the last Libertus Mystery book the library has, and I'll be finishing it just before my friends come. Yay!

I'm sort of happy and sad that I'm at the end of the series (for now, until I figure out how to buy the later books). The teaser for today:

Something that might have been a smile half spread across his face. It gave him the appearance of a crafty bear. (Page 76)

What is your teaser this week?

Monday, September 15, 2014

Murder in the Forum by Rosemary Rowe

This may be the third book in the series, but it was the fourth (or was it fifth?) book that I read. So really, order isn't that big a deal, unless you're deeply, deeply interested in the relationships.

By that I mean Libertus and his long lost wife, Marcus and his new wife (this was started in the previous book, A Pattern of Blood (link to review) ) and Junio and an unamed slave girl (also started in the previous book). Personally, I don't think it's that important, since apart from Libertus, all the romances aren't integral to the plot at all.

In this book, Libertus is called to investigate a politically sensitive mystery. Felix, a favourite of the emperor, dies suddenly. At first, everyone thinks it's an accident, but with one guest who came under false pretenses, and who is conveniently missing (there's another missing guest too), there's definitely more to this case than it seems.

There was a twist to this case that I definitely didn't expect. In fact, I just realised that Libertus is very much like Poirot - he keeps his cards to his chest, and then he reveals everything at one go. The only difference is that the book is told through the eyes of Libertus and not his sidekick (like how Poirot's mysteries are mainly told through the eyes of Hastings or whoever is his sidekick).

It's an enjoyable book, though it's very much like the previous books in the series (actually, it's probably the similar in style to books 1 to 4)