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.
The edge of the Roman Empire is a volatile place; the tribes of the North dwell near its borders. These hinterlands are the homeland of Gaius Petreius Ruso's slave, Tilla, who has scores of her own to settle there: Her tribespeople, under the leadership of the mysterious Stag Man, are fomenting a rebellion, and her former lover is implicated in the murder of a soldier. Ruso, once again pulled into a murder investigation, is appalled to find that Tilla is still spending time with the prime suspect.
"Roman Britain discovered"
Ruso and Tilla's excitement at arriving in Rome with their new baby daughter is soon dulled by their discovery that the grand facades of polished marble mask an underworld of corrupt landlords and vermin-infested tenements. There are also far too many doctors - some skilled - but others positively dangerous.
"Life in Ancient Rome"
As mysterious injuries, and even deaths, begin to appear in the medical ledgers, it's clear that all is not well amongst the native recruits to Britannia's imperial army. Is the much-decorated centurion Geminus preying on his weaker soldiers? And could this be related to the appearance of Emperor Hadrian? Bound by his sense of duty and ill-advised curiosity, Ruso begins to ask questions nobody wants to hear. Meanwhile his barbarian wife Tilla is finding out some of the answers....
"Hadrian is here!"
The medicus Ruso and his wife, Tilla, are back in the borderlands of Britannia, this time helping to tend the builders of Hadrian's Great Wall. Having been forced to move off their land, the Britons are distinctly on edge. Then Ruso's recently arrived clerk, Candidus, goes missing. A native boy thinks he sees a body being hidden inside the wall's half-finished stonework, and a worrying rumor begins to spread. When soldiers ransack the nearby farms looking for Candidus, Tilla's tentative friendship with a local family turns to anger and disappointment.
"A Pleasure to Read"
Ruso and Tilla, now newlyweds, have moved back to Britannia, where Ruso's old friend and colleague Valens has promised to help him find work. But it isn't the kind of work he'd had in mind - Ruso is tasked with hunting down a missing tax man named Julius Asper. Of course, there's also something else missing: money. And the council of the town of Verulamium is bickering over what's become of it. Compelled to delve deeper by a threat from his old sparring partner, Metellus, Ruso discovers that the good townsfolk may not be as loyal to Rome as they like to appear.
"Ruth Downie doesn't dissapoint"
At long last, Gaius Petreius Ruso and his companion, Tilla, are headed home - to Gaul. Having received a note consisting only of the words "COME HOME!" Ruso has (reluctantly, of course) pulled up stakes and brought Tilla to meet his family. But the reception there is not what Ruso has hoped for: no one will admit to sending for him, and his brother Lucius is hoping he'll leave.
"Scriptor est Notus."