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Memento Mori: Medicus #8    by Ruth Downie order for
Memento Mori
by Ruth Downie
Order:  USA  Can
Bloomsbury, 2018 (2018)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Memento Mori is the eighth in Ruth Downie's engaging historical series about Roman Britain, that opened with Medicus. The series stars Roman medicus Gaius Petreius Ruso, who seems to me a mix of Lindsey Davis's Marcus Didius Falco and Alan Alda's Hawkeye. He's married to British Tilla (an ex-slave whose real name is Darlughdacha).

I had read the first few episodes in the series, but missed the later ones. However, it wasn't hard to catch up. Tilla remains as independent and impulsive as ever, far from what's expected of a Roman matron, while Gaius continues to doggedly dig into whatever mystery is presented to him. This time, he receives an urgent call for help from his disreputable colleague and best friend, Valens, and takes his family (including adopted daughter Mara) to the rescue, to Aquae Sulis (modern Bath).

There, Gaius and readers learn that Valens is accused of his wife's murder. Serena was found stabbed through the heart in the sacred hot spring, and Valens is in hiding. His father-in-law, Centurion Pertinax, is determined to use his considerable influence to track Valens down and see him executed. Gaius quickly finds out that was a disastrous fire the night of the murder that left a lodging house in ruins and three patrons dead. Serena's lover, assistant engineer Terentius, is also missing.

Gaius finds his friend, but cannot be sure of his innocence. Tilla is kidnapped, Valens' sons go missing, and Gaius nearly drowns for his trouble. Nevertheless, he survives to solve the puzzle and save his friend. Having visited Bath, I enjoyed this exploration of its early times - don't miss the Author's Note expanding on its history - and I always enjoy spending time with Gaius, Tilla and their expanding entourage.

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