Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Triumph of Caesar

Gordianus, I thought you were dead.

So did I.  Saylor's previous novel, The Judgment of Caesar, ended with Gordianus walking into the Nile.  Two years later, he is clearly alive and has returned to Rome and his unconventional family with Bethesda.  Although his son Eco has taken over his detective business, Gordianus finds that he cannot refuse a commission from Caesar's wife Calpurnia who fears her husband will be assassinated during his triumph celebrating his victories in Gaul, Egypt, and Asia.  Nor can he resist solving the mystery of who killed Hieronymus, the former Scapegoat of Massalia who saved Gordianus's life and then followed him to Rome.  

Saylor leads Gordanius through meeting with the political elite and walks through the less fashionable suburbs of Rome, and gives us a good seat for the pageantry of Rome at its most excessive.  Along the way, we see that Gordianus's daughter Diana is (as we suspected) a natural in the family business and, yes, find the murderer.  I've mentioned before that I've read enough mysteries that I usually figure out 'whodunnit' and The Triumph of Caesar was no exception.  Saylor sufficiently obscured the murder's identity without cheating, so I was satisfied with the outcome.  Most importantly, Saylor transported me into a different world - for a few minutes, I wasn't sitting on a commuter train but watching a mob gasp in awe at shiny armor and exotic animals.

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