Memento Mori (Medicus Investigation #8)
The eighth gripping novel in the bestselling Medicus series, in which Ruso and Tilla investigate the death of the wife of Ruso's friend in the sacred hot spring of Aquae Sulis.A scandal is threatening to engulf the popular spa town of Aquae Sulis (modern-day Bath). The wife of Ruso's best friend, Valens, has been found dead in the sacred hot spring, stabbed through the heart. Fearing the wrath of the goddess and the ruin of the tourist trade, the temple officials are keen to cover up what's happened. But the dead woman's father is demanding justice, and he's accusing Valens of murder.If Valens turns up to face trial, he will risk execution. If he doesn't, he'll lose his children.Ruso and Tilla do their best to help but it's difficult to get anyone--even Valens himself--to reveal what really happened. Could Ruso's friend really be guilty as charged?

Memento Mori (Medicus Investigation #8) Details

TitleMemento Mori (Medicus Investigation #8)
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseApr 1st, 2018
PublisherBloomsbury USA
ISBN-139781620409619
Rating
GenreHistorical, Historical Fiction, Mystery, Historical Mystery, Fiction, Crime, Roman

Memento Mori (Medicus Investigation #8) Review

  • Assaph Mehr
    January 1, 1970
    This is probably my most-favourite Roman-era mystery series, and so - unsurprisingly - I enjoyed this latest volume very much. In fact, I enjoyed it so much that while reading the last bits of the book I missed my train stop.Twice.So yeah, an amazing novel for anyone who loves the genre.What to ExpectDumped straight into the action, Ruso is visiting ancient Bath in an attempt to clear his friend from a murder charge. Expect the usual twisting plot (you only think you know what's going on!), enga This is probably my most-favourite Roman-era mystery series, and so - unsurprisingly - I enjoyed this latest volume very much. In fact, I enjoyed it so much that while reading the last bits of the book I missed my train stop.Twice.So yeah, an amazing novel for anyone who loves the genre.What to ExpectDumped straight into the action, Ruso is visiting ancient Bath in an attempt to clear his friend from a murder charge. Expect the usual twisting plot (you only think you know what's going on!), engaging fully-fleshed characters, charming and realistic dialogue, well-researched history, and everything you might enjoy in a detective mystery set in Roman Britain.What to be aware ofThere are some references to events in past books. This might make some of the characters' shared history and in-jokes opaque, though you can start reading here without too much issues.POV alternates between Ruso and his (native) wife Tilla, written in the 3rd person. Somewhat less common for detective stories, but I find that Ms Downie does an amazing job of both presenting each with a unique voice whilst still tantalising the reader with disjointed bits of information.SummaryYou can read my review of the series as a whole on my blog, and most of what I said there stands for this volume as well. This is an excellently written, amazingly well-researched historical mystery, with charm and wit like no other. Whether you are a long time fan of Ms Downie or whether this is your first encounter, I highly recommend Memento Mori.Special note: If you're looking for a unique insight into the writing style and the characters, I have interviewed both protagonists. I always find interviewing the characters - rather than the author - offer an amazing insight into the novels. You can find the interviews on The Protagonist Speaks . (Note that Ruso's interview is already published, and Tilla's interview will be published on March 20, 2018).--Assaph Mehr, author of Murder In Absentia: A story of Togas, Daggers, and Magic - for lovers of Ancient Rome, Murder Mysteries, and Urban Fantasy.
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  • Jacqie
    January 1, 1970
    Thanks to Netgalley for providing a copy of this book for review.In this book, Ruso and Tilla (and their young daughter and household) are called to Aquae Sulis (Bath) to help an old friend of Ruso's. This friend's wife has been murdered and the friend charged with the crime. Ruso and Tilla are always fun to read about. Their lives feel so very real that it's easy for me to put myself back in time, seeing what it was like to stay in Roman era British inns, go to the public baths, travel the wate Thanks to Netgalley for providing a copy of this book for review.In this book, Ruso and Tilla (and their young daughter and household) are called to Aquae Sulis (Bath) to help an old friend of Ruso's. This friend's wife has been murdered and the friend charged with the crime. Ruso and Tilla are always fun to read about. Their lives feel so very real that it's easy for me to put myself back in time, seeing what it was like to stay in Roman era British inns, go to the public baths, travel the waterways. It brings home the idea that people have always been people and the ancients' problems may not have been too different from modern ones. What happens when a birth mother meets the daughter that she gave up for adoption? Who is going to come out ahead in the race to construct a new public bath and whose investors will be disappointed? How do you keep people coming to a bath where someone has been murdered? What if you build a new business in an area that looks to be up-and-coming until a fire drives investment away? What are the motives of that woman who's trying to get close to your father-in-law? Downie goes to some effort to show the sadness and loss experienced by the people close to the dead woman. There are little boys whose future is up in the air- will they live with their father or with their grandfather? She does an excellent job of laying out a complex political situation and making it clear what the stakes are to each person involved.The mystery itself? I'm not quite as sure. Honestly, I'd be happy to read about Ruso and Tilla's family without a murder to solve at this point. But a murder there must be (probably more than one), and that's how the author moves her characters around and explores this fascinating world.
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  • Sherry
    January 1, 1970
    Diving into a new Ruso and Tilla novel by Ruth Downie is like a visit with old friends—if one had old friends who manage to get tangled up with murders wherever they go. In MEMENTO MORI, medicus Ruso’s retirement in his wife’s northern village is interrupted by an urgent message from his friend and former medical colleague Valens, whose own wife has been found dead in the baths complex of Aquae Sulis (Bath). It looks like murder, and Valens himself is the prime suspect.Naturally Tilla wishes to Diving into a new Ruso and Tilla novel by Ruth Downie is like a visit with old friends—if one had old friends who manage to get tangled up with murders wherever they go. In MEMENTO MORI, medicus Ruso’s retirement in his wife’s northern village is interrupted by an urgent message from his friend and former medical colleague Valens, whose own wife has been found dead in the baths complex of Aquae Sulis (Bath). It looks like murder, and Valens himself is the prime suspect.Naturally Tilla wishes to accompany her husband to Aquae Sulis, so their adopted baby Mara must come too, and the baby-minder Neena to look after Mara, and their hapless slave Esico to tend the luggage. So when Ruso finally reaches the fabled Romano-British resort, he’s encumbered by an entire retinue of complicating companions.His and Tilla’s investigation will involve the murdered woman’s father, an intimidating retired centurion; the father’s brother, chief engineer at the baths; a flamboyant British priestess with her eye on the centurion; the baths manager, for whom the possibility of scandal is as fearsome as the rumor of a shark off the beaches of Amity, and other townsfolk whose amusing quirks are possibly suspicious. Tension mounts with the arrival of the new governor of Britannia, who has the legal authority to condemn Valens to death unless his innocence can be proved. Ruso and Tilla’s unproductive inquiry will change soon thereafter in a manner that’s literally breathtaking.Author Downie alternates points of view between the Roman Ruso, calm and pragmatic, and the Briton Tilla, who sees below the surface and knows (as her husband sometimes does not) what awful things may happen without warning. Ultimately, it’s the resourceful Tilla’s worrying about the worst that enables her and Ruso to solve the crime and survive until their next adventure.Quo usque tandem, Ms. Downie, until the next book? I can’t wait.
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  • Jane
    January 1, 1970
    It was a hard wait for the latest in my favorite Roman mystery series but I wasn't disappointed. This time Ruso, Tilla, Baby Mara and their two slaves travel to Aquae Sulis [today's Bath, England] to prove Valens, Ruso's doctor friend from legionary days, has not killed his wife, Serena, contrary to what everyone else seems to believe and to find the real culprit. Yes, the couple had not got along; yes, Valens' wife did have a boyfriend, and yes, Valens was tempted to do away with her. Although It was a hard wait for the latest in my favorite Roman mystery series but I wasn't disappointed. This time Ruso, Tilla, Baby Mara and their two slaves travel to Aquae Sulis [today's Bath, England] to prove Valens, Ruso's doctor friend from legionary days, has not killed his wife, Serena, contrary to what everyone else seems to believe and to find the real culprit. Yes, the couple had not got along; yes, Valens' wife did have a boyfriend, and yes, Valens was tempted to do away with her. Although possible motive was damning, he didn't act on it. The practical, levelheaded Ruso and the somewhat whimsical Tilla seek the truth. Their friend, Albanus, Ruso's former clerk, and his flighty wife arrive to help. Serena's father, the redoubtable Ex-Second Spear, Pertinax, who has settled in Aquae Sulis after retirement, is convinced of Valens' guilt and is fiercely protective of his twin grandsons. The governor is coming for a festival in honor of the city's patron goddess and Pertinax is insisting on a trial. Valens and the boys seek sanctuary in the temple of the goddess.Downie has outdone herself in the progress of the mystery: how she's worked in the events having to do with it--a fire: arson?, disappearances of major characters, the possible expansion of the baths, an assassination gone wrong, and the final reveal. Her trademark dry gentle humor is a large part of the story. Ruso has become less dour and hapless and he and Tilla work well as a team in their sleuthing. Their dialogue was priceless.Highly recommended.
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  • Jamie Collins
    January 1, 1970
    It’s always nice to visit Roman Britain with Ruso, the army doctor and Tilla, his British wife. Their adventures are often set in a place where Roman ruins have survived to the modern day, and this time they are visiting Aquae Sulis, the site of modern-day Bath, where particularly spectacular ruins can still be visited.Ruso’s friend and fellow doctor Valens has been accused of murder, so Ruso and Tilla and their growing entourage (baby Mara and two British slaves) travel to meet him at Aquae Sul It’s always nice to visit Roman Britain with Ruso, the army doctor and Tilla, his British wife. Their adventures are often set in a place where Roman ruins have survived to the modern day, and this time they are visiting Aquae Sulis, the site of modern-day Bath, where particularly spectacular ruins can still be visited.Ruso’s friend and fellow doctor Valens has been accused of murder, so Ruso and Tilla and their growing entourage (baby Mara and two British slaves) travel to meet him at Aquae Sulis, a popular contemporary tourist location known for its healing waters. When they arrive and get the facts, Ruso can’t shake the feeling that Valens might very well be guilty.As usual Ruso and Tilla carry on their individual investigations in their own spheres, which overlap and cause confusion since they are each distracted by what the other might be getting themselves into. The mystery isn’t particularly brilliant, but the setting and characters are very nice.
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  • Kate
    January 1, 1970
    Another fine Roman mystery from Ruth Downie, with a wonderfully visualised historical setting - this time it's Aquae Sulis or Bath. For me, the mystery takes second pace to the brilliant way in which the author brings the Roman past to life, supported by some witty prose and enjoyable characterisation. Review to follow shortly on For Winter Nights.
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  • Amanda
    January 1, 1970
    I look forward to each book from Downie with enthusiasm, and re-read them with enjoyment.Tilla and Ruso, after the dubious pleasure of their visit to Rome, have settled in the north of Britain on Tilla's family farm. It is a lot of hard work, and Ruso feels like a fish out of water. One of the big difficulties about their marriage is that neither ever feels fully at home with each others' people.The Britons distrust Ruso, and the Romans look down on Tilla. She is a Briton, he is from Gaul, he ha I look forward to each book from Downie with enthusiasm, and re-read them with enjoyment.Tilla and Ruso, after the dubious pleasure of their visit to Rome, have settled in the north of Britain on Tilla's family farm. It is a lot of hard work, and Ruso feels like a fish out of water. One of the big difficulties about their marriage is that neither ever feels fully at home with each others' people.The Britons distrust Ruso, and the Romans look down on Tilla. She is a Briton, he is from Gaul, he has almost no faith in any gods, while she believes in LOTS of them. Tilla thinks men have strange, incomprehensible ways of looking at the world, while to Ruso, women are not only changeable, they might as well be from another species. And yet...They may not have a culture in common, but they do care deeply for each other, and each wants to protect the other. There is a nice moment when they are confronting an angry Roman soldier who doesn't like what Tilla has to say, and even though Ruso devoutly wishes Tilla would shut the hell up - he has her back and carefully puts himself between her and physical harm.The murder in this volume is particularly sad, because Tilla and Ruso know the young wife and mother who has been stabbed, and her useless husband. The differences between the two marriages are interesting...in neither case do the couples really understand each other. In one marriage the couple has completely crumbled, while Ruso and Tilla keep reaching towards each other, making mistakes, but moving in the same direction together.I now know more about Hot Springs of Roman Britain than I knew there was to know. Excellent mystery, wonderful story. I look forward to more from Ruth Downie.
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  • Roger
    January 1, 1970
    As a long-time fan of Steven Saylor and Lindsey Davis, Ruth Downie's Medicus series still seems like the newcomer to the world of mysteries set in Ancient Rome. Yet, MEMENTO MORI is the eighth in the series already. The series is wearing well, more solid than mercurial.SILVER PIGS, by Lindsey Davis remains my sina qua non for historical mysteries set in the classical era. It's charm and breezy attractiveness established the foundation for a series that went on for so long, that the protagonist's As a long-time fan of Steven Saylor and Lindsey Davis, Ruth Downie's Medicus series still seems like the newcomer to the world of mysteries set in Ancient Rome. Yet, MEMENTO MORI is the eighth in the series already. The series is wearing well, more solid than mercurial.SILVER PIGS, by Lindsey Davis remains my sina qua non for historical mysteries set in the classical era. It's charm and breezy attractiveness established the foundation for a series that went on for so long, that the protagonist's role has now moved onto the next generation. Saylor is remarkable for his attention to detail and the relationships he created between his characters. He too, had to deal with the dilemma created by an aging leading man. The Medicus series is like THE GREAT WALDO PEPPER. That movie was interesting and enjoyable, and it had fantastic leads--well worth the price of admission. No one, however, is ever going to put THE GREAT WALDO PEPPER on a list of the greatest movies ever.MEMENTO MORI is a solid entrant in the Medicus series. It is better than workmanlike, but that still might be the best description of the book. Ruso and Tilla remain an attractive couple, though the routines of married life with children keep them from being intriguing (Davis and Saylor excel at keeping their leads more than interesting). Familiar supporting characters return. In fact, most of the important figures in this book have been introduced previously. That said, the mysteries at the heart of this book seem real, and the motivations of each character make sense. Ruso really does have to work his way through the puzzle. Tilla's character seems less grounded than most, and I hope that she becomes more developed in future Medicus books. It helps if the focus is on the interplay between Ruso and Tilla, as one of the pair is always a fish out of water--Ruso in Britain and Tilla in Gaul and Rome. More of that tension helps the story.
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  • Kiwi Begs2Differ ✎
    January 1, 1970
    Mystery set in Britain in 123 AD, around the time of Adrian’s wall construction. This is the latest book in the Medicus Investigation series. I didn’t read any of the previous books but the story wasn’t hard to follow as the author introduces her characters well. It was a quick read, the mystery was ok and the historical descriptions of the setting fairly accurate, however the characters’ attitude, behavior and dialogues were far too modern for the times and this detracted from my enjoyment of t Mystery set in Britain in 123 AD, around the time of Adrian’s wall construction. This is the latest book in the Medicus Investigation series. I didn’t read any of the previous books but the story wasn’t hard to follow as the author introduces her characters well. It was a quick read, the mystery was ok and the historical descriptions of the setting fairly accurate, however the characters’ attitude, behavior and dialogues were far too modern for the times and this detracted from my enjoyment of the Roman setting. I doubt I will continue this series.
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  • Kathy
    January 1, 1970
    I was very happy to spend time again with Roman Medicus Ruso and his British wife Tilla. It is a call for help from friend Valens that brings the family to Aquae Sulis (modern day Bath) to find who actually murdered Valens' wife Serena. As usual, this book provides an intimate and humorous portrayal of married life with the challenges of differing cultures and languages. Fortunately Ruso is the man for the untangling of what happened on a dark but starry night by the hot springs.I was first a fa I was very happy to spend time again with Roman Medicus Ruso and his British wife Tilla. It is a call for help from friend Valens that brings the family to Aquae Sulis (modern day Bath) to find who actually murdered Valens' wife Serena. As usual, this book provides an intimate and humorous portrayal of married life with the challenges of differing cultures and languages. Fortunately Ruso is the man for the untangling of what happened on a dark but starry night by the hot springs.I was first a fan of Lindsey Davis's series Marcus Didius Falco, continuing into a series on his daughter Flavia Albia, so it has been nice to have these Ruth Downie books to look forward to. This was almost a two-year wait and I hope they keep coming.
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  • Tim Gordon
    January 1, 1970
    Remember you will die! Remember you will die!There's really only one reason I got this book: the title reminded me of the Prufrock Preparatory School from Series of Unfortunate Events.Still, it was a fun read. I liked that the author tried to tell it from the point of view of these Roman characters, rather than through the 21st Century lens of "look how dumb these people were for having these beliefs." It's amazing how many books do that, pooh poohing on their religious and social practices beca Remember you will die! Remember you will die!There's really only one reason I got this book: the title reminded me of the Prufrock Preparatory School from Series of Unfortunate Events.Still, it was a fun read. I liked that the author tried to tell it from the point of view of these Roman characters, rather than through the 21st Century lens of "look how dumb these people were for having these beliefs." It's amazing how many books do that, pooh poohing on their religious and social practices because of the understandings we have today.The actual plot was decent enough, too. And, even though this is book 8, I managed to keep up with everything going on. I guess next time I should start at book 1.
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  • Martha
    January 1, 1970
    One of the best of the Medicus series so far, which is saying a lot. The characters continue to develop, the mystery is well plotted, and Ruso, no longer as irritatingly hapless as he was in the first couple of books, shows a wonderful wry humor.
  • Ashley
    January 1, 1970
    I love this series so much!!! One of my favorites of the lot.
  • Kathleen
    January 1, 1970
    Author’s Note ” Aqua Sulis is one of the most visited sites in Roman Britain, perhaps because it combines a lovely setting with spectacular remains..over 130 curse tablets deposited in the waters>>From the floor level down, the Great Bath is much the same today as it was when Ruso swam in it” and "My thanks go to all the readers who travel with Ruso and Tilla”I travel with Ruso,the Medicus and his wife Tilla and now their extended family, which grows with each outing. Valens who is a colle Author’s Note ” Aqua Sulis is one of the most visited sites in Roman Britain, perhaps because it combines a lovely setting with spectacular remains..over 130 curse tablets deposited in the waters>>From the floor level down, the Great Bath is much the same today as it was when Ruso swam in it” and "My thanks go to all the readers who travel with Ruso and Tilla”I travel with Ruso,the Medicus and his wife Tilla and now their extended family, which grows with each outing. Valens who is a colleague and very close personal friend of Ruso, sends a messenger ( also a colleague of Ruso) to let him know that he is accused of murdering his wife.Albanus, the former assistant to Ruso when he was still in the Army, was distraught when he arrived due to the death of Serena. Additionally Albanus is tutor to Valens twin sons, now in the custody of Pertinex, former Centurian over all three of these men. Catus, brother of Pertinex,Virana now-wife to Albanus but biological mother to Mara, adopted daughter of Tila and Ruso as well as Gleva, who is both Priestess and mistress to Pertinex round out the immediate characters involved. Characters many of them are, for sure! They leap off the page, each unique in a different fashion.The plot involves Aqua Solis, more than a Roman Bath but a religious site with the goddess Minerva Sulis of extreme importance to what is now modern-day Bath. The Governor arrives post haste to "try" the case, as Valens' father in law is convinced his daughter and her recent love interest, was murdered by her husband. Tides, the mysteries of this sacred spring as well as other obstacles stand in the way of untangling what happened. There is no resolution until the very end.Always the juxtaposition between Tilla, a British native and her husband a Roman physician from Gaul gives wonderful depth and that depth is replicated for many such couples and associates of our main characters. That is Roman Britain.All of this is why I love this series so..
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  • Judith Shadford
    January 1, 1970
    It should have been awesome. Set in the Roman town of Bath, England (Aquae Sulis) in 70AD, Romans and Brits swarming to step into Minerva's healing baths. But it wasn't awesome. Having just finished Doherty's Midnight Man, London, 13th century, I wanted to be plunged (I know, bad pun) into the world of Roman Britain. And Doherty proves you CAN walk such streets and smell such smells and be convinced that demons are as familiar as roosters. Surprisingly, Memento Mori was curiously contemporary, e It should have been awesome. Set in the Roman town of Bath, England (Aquae Sulis) in 70AD, Romans and Brits swarming to step into Minerva's healing baths. But it wasn't awesome. Having just finished Doherty's Midnight Man, London, 13th century, I wanted to be plunged (I know, bad pun) into the world of Roman Britain. And Doherty proves you CAN walk such streets and smell such smells and be convinced that demons are as familiar as roosters. Surprisingly, Memento Mori was curiously contemporary, even with decently written settings. Motivations were contemporary. Simply reiterating that a dead body fouls the pure springs at the height of tourist season is not enough to place the reader in that time and place. A minor incident of Tilla's being nabbed by two old Brit crones as a vegetable thief in the middle of the night was the most realistic of the entire novel, and had nothing to do with the central plot. So the skill is there...
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  • Anne
    January 1, 1970
    This was not the best entry in this charming series about the medicus (doctor) Gaius Ruso, who lived in Brittania during the reign of the Roman Emperor Hadrian. In fact, Ruso served in the army near the border between Roman Brittania and the Barbarians in the North, and was an onlooker to the building of Hadrian's wall. But in this installment Ruso, his wife Tilla (a native Briton) and their adopted daughter Mara have traveled to Aquae Sulis (today's English town of Bath) to investigate a murder This was not the best entry in this charming series about the medicus (doctor) Gaius Ruso, who lived in Brittania during the reign of the Roman Emperor Hadrian. In fact, Ruso served in the army near the border between Roman Brittania and the Barbarians in the North, and was an onlooker to the building of Hadrian's wall. But in this installment Ruso, his wife Tilla (a native Briton) and their adopted daughter Mara have traveled to Aquae Sulis (today's English town of Bath) to investigate a murder. The narrative seemed to meander along with not much progress and the climax, when it came, was not particularly satisfying. Still, I love these mysteries because they bring together the Roman Empire and early England and they are obviously based on solid research.
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  • Helen Hollick
    January 1, 1970
    This book has received a Discovering Diamonds Review: Ms Downie writes thoroughly entertaining novels which keep you guessing as to 'who done it'. Her research is accurate and she skilfully creates a rich air of vivid reality of time, place and events. Her characters are an absolute delight to know - even the 'baddies', while poor old Ruso still hasn't quite figured out how to handle Tilla, who remains just as much a delightful law unto herself here in Book Eight as she was in Book One.From cov This book has received a Discovering Diamonds Review: Ms Downie writes thoroughly entertaining novels which keep you guessing as to 'who done it'. Her research is accurate and she skilfully creates a rich air of vivid reality of time, place and events. Her characters are an absolute delight to know - even the 'baddies', while poor old Ruso still hasn't quite figured out how to handle Tilla, who remains just as much a delightful law unto herself here in Book Eight as she was in Book One.From cover to cover, this is one of the most entertaining historical-based mystery series going.Helen Hollickfounder #DDRevsshortlisted for #DDRevs Book of the Month
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  • Italo Italophiles
    January 1, 1970
    Memento Mori brings us a crime story set in ancient Roman Britain, this time in the spa town of Aquae Sulis, today's Bath, England. The town today boasts many Roman ruins including the mineral baths, and those baths play a central role in this tale. As always, the author looks to history for inspiration, and provides amateur historians lots of information and era flavor to enjoy.Ruso is the main character of the series set in AD123 (in this book). He's a Roman-Gaul (modern day France) who served Memento Mori brings us a crime story set in ancient Roman Britain, this time in the spa town of Aquae Sulis, today's Bath, England. The town today boasts many Roman ruins including the mineral baths, and those baths play a central role in this tale. As always, the author looks to history for inspiration, and provides amateur historians lots of information and era flavor to enjoy.Ruso is the main character of the series set in AD123 (in this book). He's a Roman-Gaul (modern day France) who served as a doctor (medicus) in the Roman army. In the course of the series, Ruso followsd the example of many of his fellow service members, and marries a local woman. Tilla, Ruso's British wife, contrast entertainingly with her husband, with the two forming a cohesive whole that is very appealing.One thing I've admired about the series is how the life of the Roman soldiers, as seen through Ruso and his comrades, always links the story and characters firmly to modern times. That is true in this book too. Ruso in this book has retired from service and moved in with his wife's relations in Northern England. But being Ruso and Tilla, a crime surfaces very quickly to draw them south to the spa town to help out an old friend. There are several old friends in the book, which will please followers of the series.Much of the humor in the series comes from the contrast between British and Roman customs and ways of thinking. Sections alternate between the third-person limited point of view of Ruso and Tilla, and a few other characters now and then. Those perspectives ring true, as do the interactions between husband and wife. All the characters feel very human, which has been a strength of the series from the beginning.I felt that the narrative flows logically and is easy to follow, and it is entertaining all along the way. I tend to get restless reading the middle section of crime and mystery novels, at the point where the author mixes it all up and adds in red herrings and odd strands of side stories, but that didn't happen with this book (nor with the others in the series). I enjoyed it all! I received a review-copy of the book; this is my honest review. It is posted with illustrations on my Italophile Book Review blog: http://italophilebookreviews.blogspot...
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  • Steven Kuehn
    January 1, 1970
    In MEMENTO MORI, we find Ruso and Tilla back home in Britain, settling into domestic life, following a less than stellar attempt to establish a practice in Rome. Unfortunately, the fates have other plans. Serena, the wife of Ruso’s old comrade Valens, has been murdered, stabbed through the heart while visiting the sacred hot spring at Aquae Sulis (modern-day Bath, England). And Valens is the chief suspect! Naturally, the temple officials are worried about the potential scandal and impact on the In MEMENTO MORI, we find Ruso and Tilla back home in Britain, settling into domestic life, following a less than stellar attempt to establish a practice in Rome. Unfortunately, the fates have other plans. Serena, the wife of Ruso’s old comrade Valens, has been murdered, stabbed through the heart while visiting the sacred hot spring at Aquae Sulis (modern-day Bath, England). And Valens is the chief suspect! Naturally, the temple officials are worried about the potential scandal and impact on the tourist trade, while Serena’s father, the retired chief centurion Pertinax, is back as his blustering, exasperating self, demanding that his erstwhile son-in-law be brought to justice. As always, Ruth Downie’s attention to detail and historical research adds significantly to a very well-written mystery. Her descriptions of Roman Bath and its citizens brought the city to life, and is a major strength of her writing. I am only afraid that one I visit modern-day Bath, I will be disappointed that it isn’t more like Aquae Sulis in the book. The story itself has numerous twists and turns, and while I had a suspicion as to who was responsible, there were sufficient false clues to keep me guessing until the end. Ruso outdid himself solving this case, and Downie brought MEMENTO MORI to a satisfying conclusion.At one point in the story, Ruso compares himself to Atlas, taking a world of troubles onto his shoulders. That is certainly an apt description, and it is this aspect of his character (and his interactions with the rest of the cast) that makes this series so captivating. Tilla, too, deserves a great deal of credit for the success of the Medicus series. Together, they make a wonderful team. MEMENTO MORI is certainly one of Downie’s best novels, and I found it thoroughly enjoyable. Over time, there is always the danger that a series will become stale or the characters might lose their appeal, but that has not happened with the Medicus series. I’ve been a fan since MEDICUS, and am greatly looking forward to the ninth book in this wonderful series.
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  • Shannon
    January 1, 1970
    This 408 page book would have improved immensely had it been reduced by about 200 pages! I found myself by page 200 yawning and idly flipping through the next half of the book, wondering what more could possibly be added to the already convoluted plot. And the answer was: nothing. The rest of the book was simply a rehash, shuffled around in a different order, trying to act like something new was being added.I usually enjoy the Gaius Ruso mysteries, so this one was a let down. His slave-cum-wife, This 408 page book would have improved immensely had it been reduced by about 200 pages! I found myself by page 200 yawning and idly flipping through the next half of the book, wondering what more could possibly be added to the already convoluted plot. And the answer was: nothing. The rest of the book was simply a rehash, shuffled around in a different order, trying to act like something new was being added.I usually enjoy the Gaius Ruso mysteries, so this one was a let down. His slave-cum-wife, Tilla, used to be far more of a foil to Ruso than the officious way she was portrayed here. Also, they are the worst parents in popular literature! His thoughts about the child, Mara, are mostly negative and Tilla palms her off on anyone at any possible excuse!The premise is about the only worthy thing in the story: Ruso's pal, Valens, is being accused of killing his wife, for whom he had no fidelity. The action takes place in modern-day Bath, then known as Aquae Sulis. This background was definitely the most fascinating part, learning some of the intricacies of the natural springs combined with the Roman-engineered baths. Ruso & Tilla and their entourage sail down from Hadrian's Wall, in the far north of Britannia, to try to find out the truth behind the murder and thus prove Valens' innocence. But there are many complications, various officials and other authorities involved and Ruso finds himself wondering if Valens really is the killer after all.
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  • Ken Kugler
    January 1, 1970
    First, I have to say that I have loved this series since I first found it. Next, I have to say that this latest addition to the "Gaius Ruso Mystery" series, is another wonderful addition. Ruth Downie takes Ruso away to Aquae Sulis, modern day Bath, England. His best friend, Valens has been accused of killing his wife and dumping the body in the holy hot springs. As usual, nothing goes smoothly for Ruso along the way from the trip to Aquae Sulis from his and Tilla's home among Tilla's family. The First, I have to say that I have loved this series since I first found it. Next, I have to say that this latest addition to the "Gaius Ruso Mystery" series, is another wonderful addition. Ruth Downie takes Ruso away to Aquae Sulis, modern day Bath, England. His best friend, Valens has been accused of killing his wife and dumping the body in the holy hot springs. As usual, nothing goes smoothly for Ruso along the way from the trip to Aquae Sulis from his and Tilla's home among Tilla's family. There are so many twist along the road to finding clues to who may have really killed Serena, Valens' wife. First on the list is Valens, followed by Serena's lover, Terentius, who has strangely gone missing and the possibility of another unknown assailant that Ruso has to figure out all the loose ends and then put them all together. Part of the problem is that nothing and I mean nothing is as it seems and everything that is discovered has doubt build into it too. That, along with Ruso's knack to discovering clues and then having them take strange, unexpected turns, are some of the reasons I love this series. I know that may sound strange but his intelligent, bumbling way of finding and figuring out things is fascinating and endearing. I can't wait for the next chapter in this series. Enjoy!!!!
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  • Camilla Monk
    January 1, 1970
    Possibly my favorite Medicus yet! Again, Ruth Downie takes on a stroll through the hills and cities of Roman-occupied Britain. I really missed Ruso's tender and disillusioned eye on his era, Tilla's earnest and rebellious character, and, as usual in Downie's books, the great and varied side-cast. We get re-acquainted with gruff Centurion Pertinax, bumbling Albanus--now married to red-head hurricane Virana. Valens, of course, is central to the story, but it's a different, broken side of him we ge Possibly my favorite Medicus yet! Again, Ruth Downie takes on a stroll through the hills and cities of Roman-occupied Britain. I really missed Ruso's tender and disillusioned eye on his era, Tilla's earnest and rebellious character, and, as usual in Downie's books, the great and varied side-cast. We get re-acquainted with gruff Centurion Pertinax, bumbling Albanus--now married to red-head hurricane Virana. Valens, of course, is central to the story, but it's a different, broken side of him we get to see. I got a feeling that the sum of his small and big mistakes caught up with him with Serena's death, and that he'll be left a deeply changed man.One thing worth noting too, is that, while he retains his hesitant, cerebral nature, Ruso has gone a long way from the debt-ridden loser of book #1. There's a scene, early in the book, where he notes that a group of young girls looking at him now see an old man. He's not that old yet (I didn't count, but I'd say 5/6 years passed since book 1), but he's definitively matured. He's occasionally more aggressive, but in control of that violence--you wouldn't imagine book 1's Ruso put a chisel to a man's throat to get the truth from him.Overall a wonderful, immersive read. Now here's to impatiently wait for a new adventure!
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  • Jessica Bronder
    January 1, 1970
    Ruso and Tilla have been asked by Ruso’s friend, Valens, to look into the death of his wife at the new bath house at Aquae Sulis. It seems she has been found stabbed in the heart and her father thinks that Valens is responsible. Valens is in a troubling spot. If he shows up for trial, he will surely die. But if he doesn’t his children will be without a father.This story has a little bit of everything in it. There is the initial murder that Ruso and Tilla are investigating. But you also have a ne Ruso and Tilla have been asked by Ruso’s friend, Valens, to look into the death of his wife at the new bath house at Aquae Sulis. It seems she has been found stabbed in the heart and her father thinks that Valens is responsible. Valens is in a troubling spot. If he shows up for trial, he will surely die. But if he doesn’t his children will be without a father.This story has a little bit of everything in it. There is the initial murder that Ruso and Tilla are investigating. But you also have a new bath house that was just constructed that has had a murder, who will want to be there? What about those that worship the goddess Minerva Sulis and how this is affected by the murder? This is my first book from Ruth Downie. It was an interesting story. One that kept me captivated through the book. But it is so much more than just a murder mystery. You learn about the extended families and how everyone seems to be connected. I also loved the settings, I felt like I was right there in the bath house.I think this is a great story that can be read as a standalone book. But I have the feeling that if you read the other books in the series it would add volume to this world.I received a complimentary copy of this book. I voluntarily chose to read and post an honest review.
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  • Helen Starbuck
    January 1, 1970
    I found Ruth Downie's first book Medicus by accident, wandering around the Tattered Cover looking for new books to read. I like tales about the Roman Empire, so I bought it. The main character of this series is Gaius Petreius Ruso a physician in the Roman Legion who has been shipped off to Britain. He's been divorced by his wife in Rome, who he never could quite figure out, and is stationed in in a Roman barracks in Britain with another doctor friend. He inadvertently begins investigating the wh I found Ruth Downie's first book Medicus by accident, wandering around the Tattered Cover looking for new books to read. I like tales about the Roman Empire, so I bought it. The main character of this series is Gaius Petreius Ruso a physician in the Roman Legion who has been shipped off to Britain. He's been divorced by his wife in Rome, who he never could quite figure out, and is stationed in in a Roman barracks in Britain with another doctor friend. He inadvertently begins investigating the whys and wherefores of a body that has turned up. That hooked me on the series. Memento Mori is the eighth book in the series and Ruso, by this time, has acquired a native Briton wife, who's hard to live with or explain, a couple of slaves that his wife has taken pity on, and an adopted infant daughter. He's now trying to help vindicate his doctor friend who's accused of killing his wife.I love Ruso because he is so baffled by people and by his wife. He loves her, but her native ways constantly conflict with his Roman ideas about propriety and life in general, and his wife Tilla seems just as baffled by him at times. It's a great read, any of these books, but I would encourage you to start at the beginning of the series so you don't miss any of the fun.
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  • Ray Moon
    January 1, 1970
    Ruth Downie’s Best YetI’m not a verified purchaser, because I obtained my copy the old fashioned way — borrowed from a local public library.The novel opens with a deadly fire in an inn in Aquae Sulis. When the flames are extinguished and activity starts to settle down, a young woman stabbed through the heart is found in the sacred waters of Sulis Minerva. The young woman, Serena, is the wife of Ruso’s friend and fellow legion doctor, Valens. She had been having an affair with Terentius, an archi Ruth Downie’s Best YetI’m not a verified purchaser, because I obtained my copy the old fashioned way — borrowed from a local public library.The novel opens with a deadly fire in an inn in Aquae Sulis. When the flames are extinguished and activity starts to settle down, a young woman stabbed through the heart is found in the sacred waters of Sulis Minerva. The young woman, Serena, is the wife of Ruso’s friend and fellow legion doctor, Valens. She had been having an affair with Terentius, an architect’s assistant working on the building of a new bath. Terentius is missing. Valens had recently arrived from his posting in the legions. Serena with her two sons have been living with her father, Pertinax, a retired chief centurion whose damaged leg was amputated by Ruso. Pertinax blames Valens for the murder and intends charge Valens with her murder when the Governor arrives in a few days.Ruso and his wile Tilla and family are living a bucolic life with her tribe 300 miles away. Albinus, his former clerk in the legions, arrives to give Valens the news of the murder. As Albinus’s wife, Virina, is the birth mother of Ruso’s adopted baby daughter, he decides to take the whole family to Aquae Sulis. The storyline takes off from here. As Ruso tries to unravel the truth, it appears that there are more players in this game that meets the eye. This storyline captured my attention, and I felt that I could read another chapter even late into the evening — I mean morning. This is my primary criteria for a high star rating.The B-storyline was extraordinarily rich in this novel as most of the major characters in this novel are long term characters in the series. The B-storyline merged with the main storyline for much of the novel. For me, this made the whole novel more intimate and enjoyable for me. While this is the eighth novel in this series and even with my previous statement that most of the characters are regulars, I did not see unexplained references that would leave a first time readers feeling that they missed something.There is not any vulgar language or explicit sex scenes.Overall, this novel was a most enjoyable read, and, in my opinion, possibly the best yet in this series. If you like ancient Roman gumshoe novels, this novel is a must. If it sounds interesting, give it a try as it is an easy read also. I rate this novel with five stars.
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  • Alison
    January 1, 1970
    This has definitely achieved favourite series in favourite genre status for me, which is a dangerous place to be because it builds anticipation. Thankfully, Downie is consistently good, and, as in this installment, can write books which are just fun to read. The specificity of the setting is a large part of the success, with both Downie's protagonists bringing defined and limited worldviews to the problems, but it also restricts the breadth of what can be explored. Here, Downie looks at ancient This has definitely achieved favourite series in favourite genre status for me, which is a dangerous place to be because it builds anticipation. Thankfully, Downie is consistently good, and, as in this installment, can write books which are just fun to read. The specificity of the setting is a large part of the success, with both Downie's protagonists bringing defined and limited worldviews to the problems, but it also restricts the breadth of what can be explored. Here, Downie looks at ancient tourism, and the religious blend up that was Bath in Roman times. It will be a delight to anyone who has been to Bath, with a clear sense of the geography as well as the elements still visible to tourists. Downie also finds a nice balance between humour and insight, keeping both Tilla and Russo as exaggerations but not quite caricatures, and allowing them both an endearingly self-deprecating reflectiveness. One of Downie's great techniques is to use her protagonists' flaws to get out of plot holes, but here she pulls back on this more than in some recent outings, allowing Tilla, in particular, to be driven by her belief in the world of gods, without making ever her outright dumb.
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  • Aurelia Scott
    January 1, 1970
    Review and sound clip: https://www.audiofilemagazine.com/rev...Review text: If you feel like getting away for awhile, I suggest the ancient British-Roman spa town of Aquae Sulis, circa AD 125. While people are being murdered there, your outstanding guide, Simon Vance, will keep you safe and entertained. In this eighth novel about Roman Medicus Ruso and his feisty British wife, Tilla, we've been called to what's now Bath, England, because Ruso's friend and fellow medicus, Valens, has been accused Review and sound clip: https://www.audiofilemagazine.com/rev...Review text: If you feel like getting away for awhile, I suggest the ancient British-Roman spa town of Aquae Sulis, circa AD 125. While people are being murdered there, your outstanding guide, Simon Vance, will keep you safe and entertained. In this eighth novel about Roman Medicus Ruso and his feisty British wife, Tilla, we've been called to what's now Bath, England, because Ruso's friend and fellow medicus, Valens, has been accused of murdering his wife, who was found stabbed in a holy hot pool. Vance performs with the confidence of being the longtime narrator for the well-written, deeply researched series. His pacing is vigorous without being too fast, his narrative voice endlessly listenable, and his interpretations of major and minor characters imaginative and revealing. A.C.S. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award © AudioFile 2018, Portland, Maine [Published: MAY 2018]
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  • Jo (Mixed Book Bag)
    January 1, 1970
    After a trip to Rome Tilla and Ruso are back in Britannia living with Tilla's family when a call comes for help. Valens' wife Serina has been murdered and Valens is the prime suspect. I loved the setting. After the call for help Tilla, Ruso, the baby Mara and the slaves set out for Aquae Sulis (modern-day Bath). The plot is very complicated and I really had no idea who did what until the very end. It was fun watching Tilla do the exact opposite of what Ruso asks. There is that familiar push/pull After a trip to Rome Tilla and Ruso are back in Britannia living with Tilla's family when a call comes for help. Valens' wife Serina has been murdered and Valens is the prime suspect. I loved the setting. After the call for help Tilla, Ruso, the baby Mara and the slaves set out for Aquae Sulis (modern-day Bath). The plot is very complicated and I really had no idea who did what until the very end. It was fun watching Tilla do the exact opposite of what Ruso asks. There is that familiar push/pull between the two. Ruso continues to realize what a gem he has in Tilla but that does not stop the tension between the two when Tilla goes off on her own. At the same time Tilla values being the wife of Ruso. The setting was interesting as some of the Roman building can still be seen at Bath and they play a big part in the story. The reader did a good job of bringing the story to life adding to how much I enjoyed the book. More Till and Ruso please.
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  • Judith
    January 1, 1970
    What I like about Downie books--or rather among the things I like--is her ability to recreate a plausible life in Roman Britain, without making the characters modern people just set in the past. Another thing is the humor, sometimes overt, sometimes almost slapstick, and many times well, subtle? She has made Tilla a real character, something that is missing in Saylor's mysteries as well as some others. Making a woman a realistic character and one that is culturally different from Ruso's Roman on What I like about Downie books--or rather among the things I like--is her ability to recreate a plausible life in Roman Britain, without making the characters modern people just set in the past. Another thing is the humor, sometimes overt, sometimes almost slapstick, and many times well, subtle? She has made Tilla a real character, something that is missing in Saylor's mysteries as well as some others. Making a woman a realistic character and one that is culturally different from Ruso's Roman one is not easily done. Donnie also is accurate on details that we know about life in Roman Britain. And of course, as usual, clues are well-hidden and I really had no definite idea who was the criminal among the suspects I narrowed the field down to. And this mystery had the additional interest of being set in Roman Bath (Aquae Sulis), which one can visit--and should--when in Britain. A beautiful city with much of interest from different periods of history.
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  • Mary
    January 1, 1970
    Another wry entry in the Ruso mysteries, in which our dour, beloved doctor discovers there can be worse things than living on and working a farm on the northern borders of the empire among a lot of barbarians.For example, local politics, corruption, tourism, and murder.Ruso is called south to Aquae Sulis (present-day Bath) because the wife of his good friend, Valens, has been found dead in one of the baths, and her husband is the prime suspect. Tilla insists on accompanying her husband, along wi Another wry entry in the Ruso mysteries, in which our dour, beloved doctor discovers there can be worse things than living on and working a farm on the northern borders of the empire among a lot of barbarians.For example, local politics, corruption, tourism, and murder.Ruso is called south to Aquae Sulis (present-day Bath) because the wife of his good friend, Valens, has been found dead in one of the baths, and her husband is the prime suspect. Tilla insists on accompanying her husband, along with their adopted daughter and their nanny, a British slave. As Ruso begins to poke around, he discovers his friend may actually be guilty. And, as if murder weren't enough, there is arson, horse theft, and kidnapping to deal with--Not, I think, the strongest entry in the series, but I love this continuing story and these characters. This was a good read that left me wanting more.
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