Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Rome’s End (A Lucius Sestius Mystery, #1) by Fiona Forsyth

Rome's End (Lucius Sestius Mysteries Book 1)Rome's End by Fiona Forsyth
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

With its engaging characters, fascinating settings, and intriguing plot, this historical mystery is something special and not to be missed!

Lucius Sestius Quirinalis (Lucius) was only a child during the Catilinarian Conspiracy. His father was a significant figure in the campaign to put down the conspiracy, a strong supporter of Caesar, and a friend and ally of Cicero. Twenty years have passed, and Lucius has grown up to become a lawyer working career under the guidance of his father when an odd case comes their way as a request from that same old friend, Cicero.

Their new client, Gaius Sallust Crispus (Sallust), is the retired governor of Africa Nova, who just recently retired and returned to Rome. Through a friend, he has heard that someone is preparing to file charges against him for provincial corruption, an accusation that he finds both worrying and puzzling as he feels he’s done nothing to warrant such a claim and as a strong supporter and friend of Caesar, with few enemies. But he knows he will need a lawyer should the rumor prove accurate, and their mutual friend, Marcus Tullius Cicero, has recommended young Lucius.

Lucius takes on the case, and he and his father start investigating the existence of these potential charges. However, it soon becomes apparent that the trouble isn’t due to something Sallust had done as provincial governor. Sallust is writing a history of the Catalinarian Conspiracy, and someone very powerful is determined that he should drop it and find another hobby in his retirement.

Rome’s End was an intriguing, exciting, and very satisfying mystery set during the final months of Julius Caesar’s time as dictator of Rome. Author Fiona Forsyth has written an absorbing mystery using the figures of Rome’s leadership, actual historical figures, making them come to life as I’ve never experienced before. Some of the figures portrayed are bad people with dangerous levels of power at their fingertips.

Lucius is personable and very likable; in fact, his entire family is great. I particularly enjoyed his friendships with his future brother-in-law, Caecilius, and the informant/fixer, Cornelius Rufus. I was immediately invested in him finding out what was going on, frustrated when things didn’t go as he needed, and worried as he became trapped in the horrible situation that was not of his making.

As our main character is on the road for much of the story, numerous locations in the Ancient Roman Empire became settings for a lot of the action and investigation. You slowly realize that these places had been settled and populated, even at the time of events in the book, for an extraordinarily long time. Still, the author made them seem fresh and alive.

Forsyth’s use of this setting and historical time period was both wonderful and fascinating. The discussions of culture, politics, family, slavery, and the everyday lifestyle were a seamless part of the story. Interesting facts and tidbits were slipped in on every page with a quick explanation or naturally inserted in context and easily understood. I did look up one item early on because I thought, “Surely that’s not what I think it is.” It was. The author’s lifelong research was apparent, mind-boggling when considered, and, ultimately, inspirational, making this historic mystery special.

Forsyth’s writing style was vastly entertaining. I liked these characters, especially Lucius, and am ecstatic to see she has already written and published additional books in the series. I recommend ROME’S END to mystery readers who enjoy a historical setting featuring actual figures from the past.

I voluntarily reviewed this after receiving an Advanced Review Copy from Reedsy Discovery.

See my original Reedsy Discovery review!

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