A Gladiator Dies Only Once by Stephen Saylor
Saylor's second release of Gordianus short stories are as delightful as those in the `House of Vestals'. In chronological order he opens with The Consul's Wife, a quick story of newspaper cryptic messages and a paranoid consul with a beautiful and independent young wife who's not adverse to backing a quick sesterce at the races. Swiftly narrated and demonstrative of Gordianus' quick eye and intelligent lateral thinking our super sleuth solves this case carelessly in a matter of hours and takes his fee. The second `If a Cyclops Could Vanish in the Blink of an Eye' is the shortest of the nine and is Bethseda's only real mention during this feline crime. `The White Fawn' has Gordianus scampering west to Spain to meet up with the renegade general Sertorius in order to chase down Mamercus Claudius, a hot-headed youth who has joined up with him against his grandfather's wishes. Gordianus gets dragged into a search for a white fawn that is acting as Sertorius' soothsayer. This story has a darker ending with our first murder of an innocent.
`Something Fishy in Pompeii' appeals to our palatable readers with its focus on industrial espionage over a missing batch of finest garum whilst `Archimedes Tomb' neatly combines the pomposity of Cicero in Syracuse with the infamous `Eureka' and the bath. Here, Gordianus is called upon to solve another murder after a Trimalchio-esque dinner between the merchant men Agathinus and Dorotheus with their pet poet, Margero. Here we find a reference to Tiro and Eco is also along for the ride.
`Death by Eros' deals with unrequited love in a gymnasium as the overly beautiful Cleon is found at the bottom of the pool and his sister Cleio and tutor Mulciber are dragged in. In what I feel is the best story of the lot, `A Gladiator Dies Only Once' Gordianus sits through a munera with Cicero, witnessing the brutality of gladiatorial combat, and is then by recruited by the Nubian, Zuleika, who is searching for her brother Zanzibar whose death isn't quite what it seems. In `Poppy and the Poisoned Cake' we find Lucius Gellius Poplicola, a somewhat stuffy censor, allowing Gordianus to rapidly solve the mystery of his cyanide cake with his wife Palla, and son Lucius but finds himself a pawn in a greater political game which echoes many of the fuller novels. We conclude with a visit to the opulent table of Lucullus and his cherries for a mystery that skips murder entirely and offers Saylor's own conclusion to Lucullus' fading from history.
This is a delightful set of small additions to the Sub Rosa series and serve well to fill in the gaps of the thirty odd years that we have followed our Finder. I sincerely hope more Gordianus come from the pen of Saylor but this may mean he has to move away from creating mysteries based on historical events as those events are fast running out, though having Gordianus involved in the most famous murder of all in 44 BC must surely lure Saylor's pen.
If you're an ancient history murder mystery fan then Saylor's one of the best. Buy it.
This A Gladiator Dies Only Once book review was written by travelswithacanadian
Have you read A Gladiator Dies Only Once?
We've found that while readers like to know what we think of a book they find additional reader reviews a massive help in deciding if it is the right book for them. So if you have a spare moment, please tell us your thoughts by writing a reader's review. Thank you.
A Gladiator Dies Only Once reader reviews
8.9/10 from 1 reviews
There are currently no reader reviews for this book. Why not be the first?
Write a reader review
Thank you for taking the time to write a review on this book, it really makes a difference and helps readers to find their perfect book.
More recommended reading in this genre
Death in St James's Park
Five years after Charles II's triumphant return to London there is growing mistrust of his extravagant court and of corruption among his officials - and when a cart lad...
Mystery in the Minster
In 1358 the fledging college of Michaelhouse in Cambridge is in need of extra funds. A legacy from the Archbishop of York of a parish close to that city promises a welcome ...
It is 1866, and Walter Moody has come to make his fortune upon the New Zealand goldfields. On arrival, he stumbles across a tense gathering of twelve local men, who have me...
Death of a Scholar
In the summer of 1358 the physician Matthew Bartholomew returns to Cambridge to learn that his beloved sister is in mourning after the unexpected death of her husband, Oswa...
Andersonville by Edward M Erdelac
Edward M Erdelac
Georgia, 1864. Camp Sumter, aka Andersonville, has earned a reputation as an open sewer of sadistic cruelty and terror where death may come at any minute. But as the Union ...
A God Strolling in the Cool of the Evening
Mario de Carvalho
In the 3rd century AD, Lucerius Valerius Quincius, perfect of Tarcisis, an imaginary Roman City, begins his memoirs. His city is threatened from without and within. North A...
The King of Scotland is dead. The nobles fight over the succession, unaware that King Edward of England has plans of his own. For years, Edward has nurtured a fierce vision...
The Chelsea Strangler
In the sapping summer heat of 1665 there is little celebration in London of the naval victory at the Battle of Lowestoft. The King, his retinue and anyone with sufficient m...
The Lost Abbot
In the summer of 1358 Matthew Bartholomew finds himself one of a party of Bishop's Commissioners, sent north to investigate the mysterious disappearance of the Abbot of...
A Conspiracy of Violence
The dour days of Cromwell are over. Charles II is well established at White Hall Palace, his mistress at hand in rooms over the Holbein bridge, the heads of some of the reg...
The Piccadilly Plot
Thomas Chaloner is relieved to be summoned back to London. His master, the Earl of Clarendon, has sent him to Tangier to investigate a case of corruption. Chaloner will be ...
Murder by the Book
It is drawing near to the end of term, and the University at Cambridge is in turmoil over the opening of a new Common Library. There is an attack on one of the masters at a...
Summer, 1546. King Henry VIII is slowly, painfully dying. His Protestant and Catholic councillors are engaged in a final and decisive power struggle; whoever wins will cont...
The Language of Stones
The Realm is poised for war. Its weak king – Hal, grandson of a usurper – is dominated by his beautiful wife and her lover. Against them stands Duke Richard of ...
The Eagle Series
It is 42 AD, and Quintus Licinius Cato has just arrived in Germany as a new recruit to the Second Legion, the toughest in the Roman army. If adjusting to the rigours of mil...
Looking for more suggestions? Try these pages:
Books of the Month
A selection of books - old and new alike - that were a joy to read.
Paris was supposed to save Hallie. Now... well, let’s just say Paris has other ideas. There’s a strange woman called The Chronometrist who will not leave her alone. Garbled warnings from bizarre creatures keep her up at night. And there’s a time portal in the keg room of the bar where she works. Soon, Hallie is tumbling through...
A corrupted city. A dark dream of power. Luke is a prisoner, condemned for a murder he didn’t commit. Abi is a fugitive, desperate to free him before magic breaks his...
The Fifth Empire of Man
Rob J Hayes
The Pirate Isles are united under Drake Morrass’ flag, but the war has only just begun. There’s still a long way to go before he’s able to call himself Ki...
Ian C Esslemont
After the disappointments of Li Heng, Dancer and Kellanved wash up on a small insignificant island named Malaz. Immediately, of course, Kellanved plans to take it over. To ...
Age of Swords
Michael J Sullivan
Raithe, the God Killer, may have started the rebellion by killing a Fhrey, but long-standing enmities dividing the Rhunes make it all but impossible to unite against the co...
A Time of Dread
The Ben-Elim, a race of warrior angels, once vanquished a mighty demon horde. Now they rule the Banished lands. But their dominion is brutally enforced and their ancient en...
The Last Dog on Earth
Adrian J Walker
Every dog has its day... And for Lineker, a happy go lucky mongrel from Peckham, the day the world ends is his: finally a chance to prove to his owner just how loyal he can...