Saturday, September 13, 2008

Review: Nox Dormienda (A Long Night for Sleeping): An Arcturus Mystery by Kelli Stanley

This new mystery series is set in Roman occupied Britain. The governor, Agricola, has subdued the Britons and built a fragile peace after the terrible destruction of the Druids' sacred isle of Mona and the defeat of Boudicca. But the balance is precarious, the Romans and the natives barely tolerate each other.

Arcturus is caught with a foot in both worlds. His mother was a Briton but his father and step-father were both Roman. He has managed to become a successful physician, officially he is Agricola's physician, but he manages to hover in the middle. He feels the tug of divided loyalties.One night, after a busy day treating patients, a beautiful woman comes to see him. Her name is Gwyna and she claims that the Governor is in danger. Arcturus has a knack for solving problems and a bit of a reputation for it, too. Perhaps because of his knowledge of both nationalities, he is able to win trust on both sides. He is a little distracted, though, by Gwyna, and the other interesting members of his household are both a hindrance and a help.

Before you know it a murder has taken place, and then another. The Romans blame the native community, particularly one young Druid who is conveniently in their path. Can Arcturus unravel the mystery in time to find the real killer, save the young man and avoid the civil war that is sure to erupt if the Romans execute the wrong man?

This mystery novel is full of well developed characters and has an intriguing plot. The setting of Roman Britain is so masterfully crafted that it is obvious the author has immersed herself in it. You can feel the mud and the dreary rain and see the gray mist that covers the Londinium of the time. I loved the inclusion of the excellent glossary in the back which included every Latin and Celtic word used in the book.

In her author's note, Ms. Stanley explains that she is a fan of Noir films and the classic private eye stories of Raymond Chandler. That is certainly apparent in this engrossing mystery. Some of the snappy language was hilarious and the whole time I was reading it I kept seeing Humphrey Bogart in his overcoat (make that a toga) and hearing Dick Tracy in my ear. It was a vivid, exciting, hard-boiled mystery with a bit of fun thrown in!

I hope I will be able to review the next book in the series, Maledictus. I have to know what happens to Arcturus & the rest of the lively characters that live in Ms. Stanley's world of Roman Noir.

Nox Dormienda is published by Five Star. ISBN 978-1-59414-666-4

Order Nox Dormienda from Amazon


Marie Cloutier said...

I'm going to have to pick this up for my husband- he's a big fan of ancient Rome and I'm sure he'd enjoy it! :)

Julia Phillips Smith said...

This sounds fantastic. I've popped over from Apprentice Writer's blog - and glad for the link here!

The Tome Traveller said...

Welcome Julia! Wasn't that nice of Apprentice Writer to give me a mention? I'm glad you came over!

This is a great book, I am surprised how much I liked it!

Lenore Appelhans said...

Roman noir - now that sounds interesting!

Becca said...

I’m a fan of noir and Raymond Chandler myself. And I like to read about ancient Rome so I’d love to see how they fit together in this book. I also appreciate a good glossary. I find there are some books where I need to refer to them more often than I care to admit.

tashiana said...

i gotta be honest--i'm not one bit interested in this but to each his own i guess
i'm surprised the romans didn't blame the christians and throw them to the lions, guess this was post-conversion lol

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About Me

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New Hampshire, United States
Bibliophile, Anglophile, Traveller... I have been an avid reader all of my life, since I took the Dr. Seuss Dictionary away from my Mom when I was less than a year old because I wanted to read it myself. In college, where I earned my degree in English Literature, I was often asked "What are you going to do with it?" Now I finally have the answer to that question!!! Being employed as a Flight Attendant for twenty years has given me a lot of life experience and, better still, a lot of time to read. I love to travel for fun, too.