But Decius Caecilius Metellus the Younger, highborn commander of the local vigiles, was determined to investigate. Despite official apathy, brazen bribes, and sinister threats, Decius uncovers a world of corruption at the highest levels of his government that threatens to destroy him and the government he serves.
©1990 John Maddox Roberts; (P)2008 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
Ok these aren't highbrow literature or anything but the story and the history are highly enjoyable. It's a great slice of Rome at the beginning of it's most famous historical events. Great road trip listening and about a pg13 rating (no excessive bad language or graphic rape scenes, etc.). I tend to mention this because after listening to pillars of the earth I learned how much more noticeable this stuff is in audio format (my BF kept walking in at highly graphic points which was highly embarrassing as well) The history in this is much better than many series that take place in ancient rome, without sounding in any way educational. It likely is educational but you dont notice. Simon Vance is one of my favorite narrators and I think just perfect for this book. I love him as the main character. I'm mostly through the 2nd book now and crave more!
Too tell the truth I got this book because I'm a big Lindsey Davis fan (the Falco Mystery Series), and felt I needed a "Roman" fix!
I really didn't know what to expect, just hope it was good. And, it was! The author John Maddox did his homework and this book is full of the flavor, smells, life, corruption, etc., that was Rome. So if you want a quick read (listen) of a well crafted detective story then get this book. I'm looking forward to other books in this series.
I've read all of Lindsey Davis' books (Marcus Didius Falco) and followed every one of Gordianus the Finder's investigations (Steven Saylor) so I'm no slouch when it comes to great, authentic, ancient Rome detective novels. Mr. Roberts develops the characters in a way that gives them depth and individual voices. I found that I really cared about what happened to them. He paints a wonderful picture of the expanse of Rome but also the danger and political doings that was ancient Rome. I must say that Simon Vance was superb as the narrator. He read naturally and imparted emotion to the characters and helped add to the events and story line.
history fan, curious to a fault
A tale of intrigue and conspiracy set during the fall of the roman republic. Great characters and historical figures. You are able to keep up with the various titles and hierarchies our lead comes into contact with while gaining an insight into the roman world at the time. Very well narrated and enjoyable overall.
I listened to this over two days.
Eclectic mixer of books of my youth and ones I always meant to read, but didn't.
I downloaded this title because of Simon Vance, one of my favourite narrators, and because I had enjoyed "Imperium" and cannot get the sequel in audio in Oz. The storyline does have similarities to the latter (and in fact assumes some knowledge of Cicero's famous victory over Hortenius in the matter of the regent of Syracuse) and Vance did not let me down with his reading skills. That said, the book is not a deep one, more a "who done it" set in Roman times and populated by some well known personalities, including Julius Caesar, Pompey the Great and his co-Consul, Crassus. Of course, Cicero and the great filibusterer, Hortensius, play important roles, too. The plot is sufficiently salacious to be fun and the history is sufficiently important to the plot to make it interesting. Alas, the protagonist, Decius, is not good enough to be admirable, nor flawed enough to be pitied, so I am yet to make my mind up about his future appeal. However, I had enough fun to give him (and SPQR) another go so long as Vance continues to be his voice.
Roman historical fiction can be risky - some of the authors who enjoy writing this period focus on hours long descriptions of torture and pain and violence, and much of it sexual. That's not what I like.
I like the politics and the social history, the rituals and the food. That, my friends, is what we have here. The mystery gives the story a form and is engaging, but this is more historical fiction and in my opinion, best in class since Colleen Mccullough. And if you know those books this is even more fun because it offers another perspective on the same events.
I dunno if I want to get the rest of the books though. I love simon vance - he is always always great, but the narrator change is not one that I care for
Don't know what I want to be when I grow up. Trip's cool though. Use Audible to make gym-training sane... And rip my imagination.
Captivating... Mesmerizing... The performance is perfect. It's a history romp... NO! It's a murder mystery. NO! It's a police procedural. Well it's all of those things and it's also whimsical, insightful, even a dose of political theory. Buy it... Listen... Luvvit! I'm off to find the next in this ancient Roman series.
Not Robert Graves, how ever I did enjoy the mystery and the the time line of the story was well studied by the author. (If anyone saw the "Spartacus" series on "Stars" the brutality and total disregard for humanity by those in power) "Ultimate power corrupts ultimately." readers should be prepared for some intense sexuality, brutality, and total disregard for life. However our hero, is a strong personality and tries to over come much of what his station demands of him, and what the higher up in Roman power structure demand. He is a man of conscious, which is very rare in this time. I enjoyed this book enough to get SPQR II.
50 yr old medical professional, love historical fiction
It took me quite a while through this book to really like it, I'm not sure if it is the author's way of telling it as a memoir or the reader - whom I LOVE, but reading this as an old man when the story is of a young man just distracted me, but eventually I liked it, but not loved it. I felt the same way about the next book as well, but changing to John Lee as narrator for the third book really changed the feel and I am now madly working my way through the entire series and really love it - almost as much as my beloved Macro and Cato.
People say I resemble my dog (and vice-versa). He can hear sounds I can't hear, but I'm the one who listens to audiobooks.
A young lawyer investigates a series of murders, uncovering political corruption, gangland rivalries, foreign intrigue, class warfare, femme fatales, and vast conspiracies. Film noir? A contemporary procedural? No -- it all takes place in ancient Rome in the waning days of the Republic, with a young Julius Caesar making a couple of cameo appearances long before his ascendancy to the role of emperor.
In the first half of the first book in his SPQR series, what John Maddox Roberts does best is paint a portrait of life in Rome, using the form of the modern murder mystery as a framework. And maybe if I read SPQR before watching the HBO series Rome, that might have been more interesting than it was -- predating the TV show by 15 years, the Rome of SPQR, even with its murders and swordplay, is quite tame.
But the big problem with SPQR is that the mystery fails. Big time. "Why am I telling you all this?" says the villain to the lawyer during the final hour after explaining the reason behind the murders. The Talking Villain -- one of the most hackneyed, trite, and laziest of mystery conventions. Long ago discredited. And in any credible mystery, you have to give the reader a chance to figure things out along the way -- the reveals in SPQR are totally out of left field in terms of who done it as well as why they done it.
Newsflash, JMR: The game of chess was not invented during Roman times, and was still a millenium away from reaching Europe -- one thousand years! Maybe you thought it was OK for you to include such a blatant anachronism since Shakespeare included a number of them in Julius Caesar. Further newsflash, JMR: You are no Shakespeare.
"A true Roman"
This was an exciting introduction to this series. It was enjoyable to learn more about Roman and the Republic before the take over by Julius Ceasar and the like. It was not a nice place but John Maddox Roberts brings the story, the time and the place alive.
I shall look out for more from this author who has made a piece of Roman history entertaining and enjoyable. A real treat. A good narrator too.
"has promise but its hard going"
hard going and to over detailed at times to the point of repeating
a bit damp
he is a good reader
"Welcome to another Roman"
There seems to be endless interest in the Roman Empire, but Roberts is a welcome addition to the field. His hero is rather similar to that of Lindsey Davis and others, but quite sympathetic, and Roberts has a nice eye for what was happening in Rome, bringing in some of the important characters as the bit parts they would have been at the time.
Simon Vance reads the character well and it is good to know that there is at least one more to carry on what I hope will be a long series
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