Historical thriller set in Ancient Rome. In 45 BC, Julius Caesar is at the height of his power. Lucius Scaurus, the young, good-looking fiance of a high-society girl is poisoned at the couple's own pre-wedding banquet. In the trial that follows, Roman society is shocked when the girl's mother, Helvia, is accused of not only of murder, but of incest. Cicero comes to Helvia's defence, but the killer's identity remains a mystery until the final twist - or two.
'Poison, poetry (both high-minded and salacious), marriage for money, marriage for love, gang-rape, cowardice in battle, scheming slaves, conniving aristocrats, malicious matrons casting magical curses, and (as if all this were not enough) a previously unknown oration by Cicero — there’s so much going on, so expertly conveyed ... ' (Steven Saylor)
First published in 1988, this welcome reissue from O'Hagan (Jerome and His Women) cleverly uses the tensions preceding and following Julius Caesar's assassination as the backdrop for a murder mystery. Lucius Scaurus, who "served under Scipio in the African war against Caesar," has returned to Rome, where his magistrate father, Marcus, who's in financial difficulties, has arranged his betrothal to 14-year-old Fufidia. Fufidia's father, Quintus, is affluent, and her mother, Helvia, is the sister of the poet Cinna. Misgivings about the match don't end with Lucius and Fufidia's engagement, which is followed by a poisoning at a pre-wedding banquet at her family's home that leads to accusations of murder against one of her parents. O'Hagan is especially adept at making the trial scenes vivid, with the legendary orator Cicero speaking for the defense. Steven Saylor fans won't want to miss this one. (Self-published.)
A fabulous read
A fabulous well-written, compelling read! I love the twists and was surprised at the ending. I also love the characters and I highly recommend this book!
I received a free copy of this book via Booksprout and am voluntarily leaving a review.