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Medicus: A Novel of the Roman Empire | [Ruth Downie]

Medicus: A Novel of the Roman Empire

Gaius Petrius Ruso is a divorced and down-on-his-luck army doctor who has made the rash decision to seek his fortune in an inclement outpost of the Roman Empire, namely Britannia. After a 36-hour shift at the army hospital, he succumbs to a moment of weakness and rescues an injured slave girl, Tilla, from the hands of her abusive owner. And before he knows it, Ruso is caught in the middle of an investigation into the deaths of prostitutes working out of the local bar.
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Publisher's Summary

Gaius Petrius Ruso is a divorced and down-on-his-luck army doctor who has made the rash decision to seek his fortune in an inclement outpost of the Roman Empire, namely Britannia. His arrival in Deva (more commonly known today as Chester, England) does little to improve his mood, and after a 36-hour shift at the army hospital, he succumbs to a moment of weakness and rescues an injured slave girl, Tilla, from the hands of her abusive owner.

Now he has a new problem: a slave who won't talk and can't cook, and drags trouble in her wake. Before he knows it, Ruso is caught in the middle of an investigation into the deaths of prostitutes working out of the local bar.

A few years earlier, after he rescued Emperor Trajan from an earthquake in Antioch, Ruso seemed headed for glory: now he's living among heathens in a vermin-infested bachelor pad and must summon all his forensic knowledge to find a killer who may be after him next.

Who are the true barbarians, the conquered or the conquerors? It's up to Ruso (certainly the most likeable sleuth to come out of the Roman Empire) to discover the truth. With a gift for comic timing and historic detail, Ruth Downie has conjured an ancient world as raucous and real as our own.

©2007 Ruth Downie; (P)2007 Tantor Media Inc.

What the Critics Say

"Downie's auspicious debut sparkles with beguiling characters and a vividly imagined evocation of a hazy frontier." (Publishers Weekly)
"Fans of Alexander McCall Smith will delight in this series debut set in Roman-occupied Britain and featuring wry army doctor Gaius Petreius Ruso." (Booklist)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.9 (978 )
5 star
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4.0 (556 )
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4.3 (553 )
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Taryn Suffern, NY, United States 09-20-08
    Taryn Suffern, NY, United States 09-20-08 Member Since 2006

    Addicted to Audible!

    HELPFUL VOTES
    1436
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    346
    188
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    Overall
    "Entertaining"

    I enjoyed listening to this book. When I think of ancient Rome I dont think of the people being like me in my daily life. Perhaps its a bit contrived but it was fun to see a Roman Medicus from a modern perspective. Kept my interest!

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Margaret San Francisco, CA USA 04-29-13
    Margaret San Francisco, CA USA 04-29-13 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    76
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    Story
    "Delivers a whooping good story"

    I don't know how I missed Ruth Downie and the Russo series, but since the first book was published in 2007, it must be true which is a bummer for me. But, on the good side, there are now four more novels in the series ready to download without any waiting. Discovering a new series is one of the best things that I spend my credits on!

    I realize that people who are very particular about historical accuracy might find Medicus trying, but I have no such standards. I thought it was great! There is a strain of sentimentality in the work that is more common is "cozy" mysteries, but that charmed me right away.

    I hope the next book holds to the same tone and builds the momentum so well done in Medicus. I'm going to download book two now. Fingers crossed.

    8 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jessica minneapolis, MN, United States 01-17-12
    Jessica minneapolis, MN, United States 01-17-12 Member Since 2015

    i'm listening

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    Story
    "Great fun"

    I think I might have named my dog after the Medicus. His name is Gaius. He is so very likeable and at the same time seems totally real. At this point I have all 4 of Ruth Downie's books in this series. They are very entertaining murder mysteries peppered with the historically interesting.

    This one is the funniest, though it has a very serious story too. There are parts of it that made me laugh out loud. I am more of a chuckler in most cases. The characterizations and the writing are great so these are stories you can listen to more than once. There's a lot more about them to enjoy even after you know who done it .

    Simon Vance, as always, is perfect

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Abigail arlington, VA, United States 09-09-11
    Abigail arlington, VA, United States 09-09-11 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Start of a Great Series that Gets Even Better"

    This book may have some parts that ran a little long and could have been a little more tailored but is still a great listen. I was certainly hooked and the next book is even better. Ruso is a great character and one you will be glad to follow. Slightly pompous, slightly seedy yet moral, hes the perfect disheveled down on his luck and cynical detective with a heart of gold from a classic film noir. That this noir takes place in ancient Rome actually adds interest to the story, rather than making is sound too distant or academic. Downie pulls you into history so well that the reader is just as comfortable in the Roman Empire as in any modern city and her characters become familiar friends (and enemies)very quickly. Simon Vance reads Ruso perfectly and makes the story even more compelling.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carol Massachusetts 02-06-11
    Carol Massachusetts 02-06-11

    Good writing has ... a balance and a rhythm. You can feel that much better when it's read aloud. --Laura Hillenbrand, author of Unbroken

    HELPFUL VOTES
    916
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    "What Marjorie Said"

    Read the review by Marjorie from California written in 2008. She says everything I would say about this book, and says it extremely well. I give "Medicus" 5 stars instead of the 4 Marjorie awarded it, but I'm a bit of a sucker for stories about ancient Rome and for narrator Simon Vance.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Susan Austin, TX, United States 01-22-11
    Susan Austin, TX, United States 01-22-11 Member Since 2015

    AmazonBookLover

    HELPFUL VOTES
    251
    ratings
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    342
    56
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    "Another great Ruth Downie CSI:Rome book"

    I've listened to all books in this series to date and hope the new one which is out in book form gets onto Audible soon. All of the books follow the life of Gaius Petrius Ruso, a Roman doctor who is something of a murder-solving detective. It's interesting to imagine life in Roman-occupied Brittania (modern day England) and follow Ruso on his cases. Highly recommend this and other Ruth Downie books in the series.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Catherine West Fargo, ND, USA 08-01-08
    Catherine West Fargo, ND, USA 08-01-08 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Entertaining"

    Entertaining--not historically accurate, but the main character is determinedly grumpy and yet a softie on the inside! I'd love to see a continuation of the series, it was worth listening to.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tammi 11-08-07
    Tammi 11-08-07
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Good sense of place and time"

    The author has a an excellent way of making the reader perceive the ancient Roman empire as modern and vibrant.

    7 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ant the Limey Pennsylvania 03-11-07
    Ant the Limey Pennsylvania 03-11-07 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "great book"

    The story is pleasing, the tone is enjoyable. The characters are fantastic. The narrator is good (not Scott Brick good, but only 3rd narrator I want to try books based on his voice).

    I can think of nothing bad to say about this bood. I heartily recommend it

    21 of 26 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Judith A. Weller LaVale, MD United States 11-13-08
    Judith A. Weller LaVale, MD United States 11-13-08 Member Since 2008

    jw1917

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Great Mystery set in Roman Britania"

    I love mysteries set in the Roman Empire. This one is unique in so far as it is set in Britania instead of Rome itself. Emperor Trajan has just died and Hadrian is the new emperor. The author has really captured the flavor of Roman Britain with all its vices. The hero, as the name implies is a Doctor, so we get to learn about medical practices in the Roman Empire. Our hero has angered just about everyone he possible can and is beaten and threatened throughout. It is both humorous and exciting. But all ends well. The reader is great and really makes the characters come alive. Hope to see more of this character. Great listen - very enjoyable

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
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