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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.

Critic Reviews

"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 listeners say about Medicus

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Great listen

Great story, good pacing. I thought it brought ancient Rome to life. Highly recommend.

40 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Took Me by Surprise

The similarities to Lindsey Davis's Falco are present and obvious, so I didn't expect much more than a takeoff. I was so wrong. There was plenty that was fresh and enjoyable. The plot is very absorbing, the hero is likable and engaging, and there's ample, if gentle, humor. Except for the unreliable best friend, none of the characters were stock, and some were very startling. Ms. Downey is less didactic than Ms. Lindsey with the historical info, and that had pluses and minuses. On the one hand, I had to do more guessing by context on terms, but it also allowed for a free flow that I enjoyed. I would definitely recommend this.

Audio: After a recent series of horrible readers, this was a great pleasure. The reader has a pleasant voice, is a good actor, and delineates the characters beautifully. And unlike most male readers, he does a good job with the females, using timbre instead of pitch, thus sounding like real women rather than impersonators or elderly aunts. He's top drawer on this one.

133 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

You are there in ancient Britain

This is a thoroughly enjoyable murder mystery and imaginative recreation of ancient Britain in the early days of Roman occupation. Humorous and colorful.

43 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Highly Entertaining

The first installment of a highly entertaining mystery by British writer Ruth Downie. The Medicus, Ruso, an army doctor becomes a reluctant detective who tries to solve a murder mystery in the Britannia port of Deva. Along the way, he matches wits with Tilla, his slave girl, the hospital thug, and the women of the bordello, to hilarious results. Top it off with excellent narration by the great Simon Vance, and you've got a good read.

38 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Medicus

As always, Simon Vances is a joy to listen to, his narration flawless, each character distinctly drawn by the voices he gives to them. After a bit of a slow start, the book picks up its pace and provides a fascinating look into Britannia under Roman rule. Most enjoyable for anyone who loves historical fiction.

35 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

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.

16 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Murder on the Roman Frontier

The British paperback title of this book is Medicus and the Disappearing Dancing Girls, which probably gives a better idea of the lively nature of this story about a divorced military doctor stationed in Roman Britain in 117 AD faced with the mysterious murder of local tavern girls.

The author has very good comic timing as Gaius Petreius Ruso tries to cope with all of the problems attendant on being on the edge of the civilized world, as the Romans knew it. Whether it involves buying his first pair of wool trousers or his efforts to find a good cook or dealing with hospital bureaucrats, Ruso's trials provide an entertaining diversion.

The narrator is Simon Vance who also narrated The Fourth Bear. His occasional reuse of a voice from that other book is a bit disconcerting, however, overall he does very well indeed.

65 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars

Medicus

Given the setting (Roman Empire Era) I didn't expect to like it. Was surprised to throughly enjoy the book. Good character development and enough surprises to keep one interested.

22 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

All hail the power of Rome

I thought this novel to be fantastic. The storyline along with the history was brillant!!And to top it off the talents of the narrator were exceptional!! If you like Roman history or anything to do with Rome then this book is for you

15 people found this helpful

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Highly recommended

This is a great book, the characters are very likable, it is interesting, humorous and credible.
It is read by Simon Vance, who is, as always, an absolute pleasure to listen.
To give you an idea of what I like, I spent 6 moths reading Patrick O'Brian (the audio books are also read by Simon Vance, by the way) and a year reading Terry Pratchett.

35 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Mary Carnegie
  • 10-18-16

I'm hoping a successor to Falco!

I've been a Falco fan since I first heard the dramatisations of the earlier books on Radio 4 with Anton Lesser (available on Audible, like the whole book versions with a number of narrators of varying quality!). So I've heard them all, and have been looking for another series of historical mysteries especially in Roman Empire times. I don't want just wars, armies and blokes being macho. So some series have been returned to sender!
I don't want Latin chick lit, just some continuing characters I might like or hate.
Ruso seems to fit the bill, so far, and Simon Vance reads well, with a rather neutral English accent which is easy to listen to, but has developed a recognisable accent for the British characters- - sort of mild Ulster or Ulster-Scots diffentiates locals from invaders.
The English hadn't arrived yet!!
Simon Vance has however developed some American pronunciations which come across like an obscenity in a sermon - unexpected wrong notes, like privacy- just a clunk in an otherwise good performance. There does seem to be a tendency for writers of European origin writing about European events to adopt US English, no doubt hoping for bigger sales, Martin Walker's Bruno novels being a prime example, but diversity of language is part of literature!

20 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • 39Helen39
  • 03-10-17

Interesting and informative

I am a glutton for a whodunnit! I found that I could put it down but as I listen to them to get to sleep (blocking out all other thoughts) I did keep rewinding. I found the characters well performed and enjoyed it so much that I have downloaded the second novel for my holiday. Appparently, according to reviews, it is even better.

5 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Rusmat Ahmed
  • 10-24-18

Too long, not humorous enough, gormless hero

As above. Might be ok if half the length and not such a clueless hero.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Wendy b
  • 03-14-17

Held my attention from the beginning

The narrator used a range of distinguishable voices to help keep the story clear and flowing. This is a good story enhanced by the telling

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Pendrian
  • 03-09-17

Excellent in all respects

I would recommend this audio story to anyone. I have read all of the Ruso series. This is the first one. The storyline of all of this series is excellent and the characters and the relationship between them so ver believable. The humor is subtle but there and well done

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Mair
  • 12-22-20

Amusing & Intriging

A great romp through ancient Britannia. The author is knowledgable and a good writer. Great characters

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Audrey Sawyer
  • 07-28-20

Best story-telling ever!

Loved Ruth Downie's books and thought they would make a good listen for a long journey. Simon Vance reads superbly, brings Roman Britain vividly to life. All the characters are very well portrayed. Just bought the second in the series for my next trip!

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • M Morris
  • 07-06-20

Very, very good. I enjoyed it hugely.

Good story, great characters. I have enjoyed the books, now starting on the audio. Will continue with the series.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • The Curator
  • 04-21-20

Entertaining

Not long into this I remembered that I’d already read the book some years ago and not liked it. Listening to it now, I can’t remember why. It’s a well-plotted and entertaining crime novel. It’s clearly well researched but wears it lightly. Good fun.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • K Reading
  • 03-11-20

Good character descriptions, interesting environment, sad and humorous.

I found this to be an entertaining story with characters that formed in my mind easily. The observations of their human flaws was at times quite amusing. It is I think a type of historical detective novel given that the main character solves a murder mystery. Set at the time of the Roman occupation of Britain the author has painted a very believable picture of every day life for the local people and their Roman overlords. A clash of cultures which again is amusing but this is also a story that contains brutality, poverty and the dark hand of fate. I liked the main character who can’t help but do the right thing even though he knows it is not in his own interest to do so. The readers voice completely matched the main character for me and the reading was smoothly done . I would like to hear what happens next for the characters in this book.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Kevin
  • 07-01-18

ER meets Midsomer Murders meets ancient Rome

I really like this, it's a refreshingly different tale of ancient Rone and though I appreciate this is a work of fiction the vague historical facts twisted into the tale are a great idea.

1 person found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 11-20-18

Mills and Boon

This was beautifully read by Simon Vance but the story was an awful mills and boon of a Roman Doctor who buys a beautiful slave who he falls in love will. Spare me.