Catilina's Riddle In Catalina's Riddle, Gordianus has washed his hands of politics and moved his family to a farm in Etruria, hoping to get away from the dirt and danger of Rome. But he cannot escape from intrigue so easily. Cicero wants him to work against the dangerous charismatic populist politician Catalina. Gordianus does not want to know- but then the first headless corpse turns up in his well…
"Steven Saylor vividly brings the underbelly of Ancient Rome to life and leapfrogs over the massed legions of other historical mystery writers to spearhead a Roman invasion with a wicked difference." Maxim Jakubowski, Murder One
"Part of the attraction... comes from watching lofty figurer in history, tragedy and Latin behaving as nobly and sordidly as real people in daily life." Boston Globe
"I can't say enough good things about Saylor's style, his scholarship, or his mastery of the period." Poisoned Pen More Praise for Steven Saylor
"A wonderfully clever series" New York Times
"engrossing ancient Rome whodunnits" Peter Kemp, The Sunday Times
"Steven Saylor is one of the most meticulous when it comes to historical detail" Susanna Yager, The Sunday Telegraph
"How wonderful to have a scholar write about ancient Rome; how comforting to feel instant confidence in the historical accuracy of a novel. With effortless grace, Steven Saylor's A Murder on the Appian Way puts the reader immediately at home in this distant world " Donna Leon The Sunday Times
British Pbk Original - Robinson (1997)
Roman Blood It is an unseasonably warm spring morning in 80BC when Gordianus the Finder is summoned to the house of Cicero, a young advocate and orator who is preparing for his first important case. His client is an Umbrian landowner, Sextus Roscius, accused of the unforgivable: the murder of his own father.
Gordianus accepts the commission to investigate the crime - in a society rife with deceit, betrayal and conspiracy, where neither citizen nor slave can be trusted to speak the truth. But even Gordianus is not prepared for the spectacularly dangerous fireworks that will attend the resolution of this ugly, delicate case…
Compared to the novels of Robert Graves and Mary Renault for their historical authenticity, to the whodunnits of Agatha Christie for their deft plotting, and praised for the skilful blending of real and imagined historical characters, the novels of the ROMA SUB ROSA provide a panoramic fictional account of Rome in the last years of the dying Republic. Surrounded by towering figures like Cicero, Pompey, Julius Caesar and Marc Antony, Gordianus the Finder and his family encounter murder, mayhem and mystery. Saylor explains his choice of the series title "in Ancient Egypt, the rose was the emblem of the god Horus, later regarded by the Greeks and Romans as the god of silence. The custom developed of hanging a rose over a council table to indicate that all present were sworn to secrecy. "SUB ROSA" (under the rose) has come to mean that which is carried out in secret. Thus ROMA SUB ROSA means a secret history of Rome or a history of Rome's secrets, revealed through the eyes of Gordianus. 'Remarkable .. a stirring blend of history and mystery, well seasoned with conspiracy, passion and intrigue' Publishers Weekly
'A combination of Hitchcock-style suspense and vivid historical details make Steven Saylor's Roman Blood one of the most gripping - and most informative - mysteries to have appeared in some time' Pittsburgh Post Gazette
'Gripping historical thrillers… Saylor's understanding of the rich complexity of Roman life has a universal appeal' Dan Francisco Chronicle
British Pbk Original - Robinson (1997)
Arms of Nemesis See Review by
South of Rome on the Gulf of Puteoli stands the splended villa of Marcus Crassus, Rome's wealthiest citizen.
When his estate overseer is murdered Crassus concludes that the deed was done by two missing slaves, who have probably run off to join the Spartacus Slave Revolt. Unless they are found within five days, Crassus vows to massacre his remaining ninety-nine slaves.
To Gordianus the Finder falls the fateful task of resolving this riddle from Hades. in a house filled with secrets, the truth is slow to emerge. And as the massacre approaches, Gordianus realises that the labyrinthine path he has chosen just may lead to his own destruction… 'A year ago Steve Saylor published Roman Blood, the first of a series of mysteries set in ancient Rome. Both a witty, meticulous recreation of Cicero's Rome and a deft mystery, the book was a runaway hit. Saylor's main character, Gordianus the Finder, works for the rich but loves the common man, and was a literary feat. Now Saylor (a.k.a. Aaron Travis, porn writer extraordinaire and author of The Flesh Fables and Slaves of The Empire) is back with a sequel - Arms Of Nemesis - that is not only more entertaining but also quite a bit gayer.
If Roman Blood was steeped in the gritty details of urban Roman life (a sort of Postman Always Rings Twice on the Palatine) Arms of Nemesis is more bucolic. Here Saylor takes the idea of the classic Manor House mystery (Agatha Christie's The Mysterious Affair at Styles, or P.D. James's The Skull Beneath the Skin) and recasts it in the wealthy seaside community of Baiae, on the southern coast of Italy. It is to a villa here that Gordianus comes to help solve the murder of a wealthy patrician, apparently killed by two escaping slaves. Roman law calls for all the slaves of a household to be put to death should one murder a master. It is up to Gordianus to find the real murderer before 99 men, women, and children are executed.
As in Roman Blood, Saylor manages to be both entertaining and exact in his depictions of Roman life and custom. He is a deft caricaturist. Arms of Nemesis contains a bevy of eccentric and engaging suspects, including a grieving widow, several gay men with complicated relationships, a possibly sapphic couple who seem to be involved in some odd oracular activity, and a preening old actor who may know a great deal more than he is admitting. It's the sort of crowd that could easily be transported (with a change of costume) to a faded-gentry, English country-house between the wars. Saylor's sense of style and elegantly witty writing (you can feel gay sensibility lurking beneath every passage) makes the most of this genre transference. Arms of Nemesis is as much a meditation of the nature of the 'mystery novel' as it is a surprising and suspenseful mystery.' Michael Bronski, the Boston Globe
'Wrap Hercule Poirot in a toga, toss him into a villa in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius and -- voila! -- an atrium mystery. But, thanks to Steven Saylor's skill and wry confidence, "Arms of Nemesis," the second in a series of mysteries set in the world of ancient Rome, is nothing of the sort. The caper begins when Gordianus the Finder -- a gumsandal who tells us that "obtaining information is my speciality" is roused from his bed by a stranger who demands that he travel to the wealthy community of Paiae to help solve a nasty murder case. We soon learn that a patrician named Lucius Licinius, overseer of a villa owned by Marcus Crassus, has been brutally murdered. Initial evidence points to a couple of Crassus' slaves, who appear to have fled the scene of the crime to join Spartacus' rebellion. Since Roman law dictates that when a slave kills a master every slave in the household must die, Crassus will have to kill all 99 of his other slaves if the real murderer can't be found in the three days before Licinius' funeral. Aided only by his mute adopted son, Eco, Gordianus races against the sundial to uncover the truth behind the murder. Despite some trivial yet perhaps necessary anachronisms ("assassins" are referred to throughout), "Arms of Nemesis" represents the best of two genres: a faithful and breezy historical novel and a compulsively entertaining whodunit.' David Dawson, New York Times Book Review
'A Columbo-like detective, Gordianus, is called in to investigate the murder of the overseer of a large villa on the Bay of Naples... Carefully researched, vivid accounts of Roman daily life and the underlying homoerotic tone of the lovingly detailed descriptions of men's naked bodies make "Arms Of Nemesis" offbeat and intriguing reading.' Peter Handel, San Francisco Chronicle Book Review
First British Edition Robinson (1997)
A Murder On The Appian Way See Review by
The year is 52BC and Rome is in turmoil. Rival gangs prowl the streets as Publius Clodius, a high-born, populist politician and his arch enemy Titus Milo fight to control the consular elections. But when Clodius is murdered on the famed Appian Way and Milo is accused of the crime, the city explodes with riots and arson. Even the sacrosanct Senate House is burned to the ground.
As accusations and rumours fly, Gordianus the Finder -whose shrewd investigative skills and integrity have made him much sought after by all sides in the escalating conflict - is charged by Pompey the Great with discovering what really happened on the Appian Way one dark January night. Was it murder? And if so, should the perpetrator be condemned as a villain or hailed as the savour of the Roman Republic? For on the truth of that hangs the fate of Titus Milo, and with Rome descending into chaos, Pompey and his rival Julius Caesar watch from a distance and coolly plot their own ambitions. 'When you pick up a historical mystery like A Murder On The Appian Way, it's not as if you didn't know how the thing will come out. After all, here are Caesar, Pompey and Marc Antony jockeying for political power (and that slippery Cicero cutting deals in the next room) while the republic goes up in flames in 52 B.C. The thrill kicks in when Steven Saylor, who has written four earlier novels in this wonderfully clever series, starts playing the wild cards: characters like Publius Clodius, a plebeian politico who is assassinated on the road outside Rome; Titus Milo, his patrician rival and possible killer; Sextus Cloelius, a big brute who "organizes mobs, stages riots, breaks arms, slits noses"; and Gordianus, known as the Finder, who spies on everyone from a discreet distance and serves as the reader's intelligent and well-informed interpreter of all the machinations.
Mr. Saylor puts such great detail and tumultuous life into his scenes that the sensation of rubbing elbows with the ancients is quite uncanny. Even more cunning has gone into the careful parallels between the bloody conflicts of an earlier civilization and more contemporary versions of political savagery. Deploring the "anarchy in the streets, rival gangs waging virtual civil war, a looming dictatorship, an uncertain future," Gordianus could be describing our own local school board elections.' New York times Book Review