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Steven Saylor

Last seen in Massilia
St. Martin's, 2000
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Reviews:

Gordianus and his son-in-law Davus head to Massilia in the hopes of finding Meto, who has been missing for quite a while.  Gordianus has received a note saying that Meto is dead, but he needs to verify this report for his own peace of mind.

Through various machinations and after meeting some strange people on the way, Gordianus finds himself inside Massilia during Caesar’s siege.  There, while trying to discover Meto’s whereabouts, whether alive or dead, he runs into a bizarre group of bedfellows, exiles from Rome who are hoping that Pompey will save the city and offer them a safe return to Rome.

Two former Catilinarians, still believing in their hero even after all those years, take Caesar to meet Verres, who is living it up with his stolen art and money from Sicily.  Milo is there too, involved in politics.  All these people claim knowledge of Meto. Luckily for Gordianus and Davus, they are befriended by a Massilian citizen, who is the religious "scapegoat." If Artemis, the patron diety of the city, wills it, he will be sacrificed to the gods in order to ensure the safety of the city.  Until that time, however, he lives the good life, and at least Gordianus has sufficient food to eat.

Naturally, there is also a death that Gordianus is asked to investigate.  He and Davus saw a young woman fall to her death, but was she pushed by a man or did he try to save her?  That she was the daughter of a Romanized Gaul adds to the politics.  That the young man involved might be the son of the chief government official of Massilia adds to the mix of politics.  All of this, of course, is happening during the siege.

While the basic mystery is easily solved, the twists and turns in the last few pages are excellent.  It’s a pleasure to have a master writer at work who can keep the story going even when you have figured out most of the story.  I will read some of the Catilinarian conspirators' conversation to my 3rd year class; most of them read Catilina’s Riddle and will enjoy meeting some really strange remnants of that group.  This book is definitely worth reading.

- Ruth Breindel, 2/3/2001

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