Ruth Downie

Tabula Rasa

" excellent plot with various twists and turns..."


Medicus, Gaius Ruso and his British wife, Tilla are back in Britain in the north close to Hadrian's Wall where Tilla grew up. She has connections in the area and is slowly trying to build bridges where suspicion reigns. Her marriage to a Roman is considered doubtful and both her motives and that of Ruso are viewed with considerable misgivings.

When Ruso's clerk, Candidus disappears, tensions increase. Ruso is anxious to find him before the clerk's uncle and Ruso's friend, Albanus turns up. The search for him involves searching the local British homesteads and is handled badly, only upsetting the natives more.

Ruso and Tilla both try to keep the peace between the two sides but nothing is straightforward and some interesting developments keep them both on their toes and in and out of danger before finally all is resolved.

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As always, Ruth Downie writes a very good story that keeps you entranced and connected until the very last page. Partly this is because the characters are likeable and intriguing with very definite personalities and views of their own. It really matters what happens to them. There is a touch of humour as Ruso deals with Roman regulations and red tape whilst pursuing his own idiosyncratic ways. His unusual marriage to Tilla is typical of his views and does sometimes complicate his life. In addition, the background of Roman life that is given is fascinating. There is a great deal of research data on the life of the Roman soldier on Hadrian's Wall and this is used to put realism on the bones of everyday life. Add to that, an excellent plot with various twists and turns and you have an extremely enjoyable read.

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