Murder Among the Ruins: Ancient Roman Mysteries

For fans of historical novels, the ancient Romans are an entertaining bunch. If you like mysteries as well, there are definitely authors who cater to you. Below are three series that take place in the Eternal Empire. All are richly detailed and have a touch of humor to go with the whodunit.

The Flavia Albia series by Lindsey Davis has a new addition: The Graveyard of the Hesperides. In this novel, Flavia is looking for a distraction from her wedding day (being planned with gusto by her teenaged sisters) and takes an interest in some bones discovered on her fiancée's work site. There's a rumor of a murdered barmaid, but one body turns into many and Flavia has to get to the bottom of it before her nuptials. Taking place in the first century A.D., The Flavia Albia mysteries are a continuation of the Marcus Didius Falco series, as she is his daughter. Both characters are quirky and snarky, and the books are intricately plotted and suspenseful.

The Ruso series by Ruth Downie also has a new book: Vita Brevis. So far, Ruso has been an army doctor stationed in the backwater of Britannia (yup, that's England to we modern readers). Along with his slave, TIlla, he becomes involved with the military and political machinations of the empire both in Britannia and Gaul. In the latest book, The couple relocate to Rome itself, only to find an infested apartment and a body in a barrel on their doorstep. Once again, humor of the sharp kind abounds, with sensual detail complementing the spare writing.

Steven Saylor writes the Roma Sub Rosa series, featuring Gordianus the Finder. Set in the waning days of the Roman Republic, these mysteries often revolve around a specific figure or event during that era. Gordianus has a wry sense of humor, and one definitely gets a feel for the environs of Rome. While Saylor has written numerous prequels, the book to start with is his first: Roman Blood.

Got more mysteries you like set in ancient Rome? Let us know in the comments section.

We welcome your respectful and on-topic comments and questions in this limited public forum. To find out more, please see Appropriate Use When Posting Content. Community-contributed content represents the views of the user, not those of Chicago Public Library