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Thursday, October 27, 2016

Ruso and Tilla Are Back From Gaul and Find Unrest Among the New Briton Recruits

Semper Fidelis: A Novel of the Roman EmpireSemper Fidelis: A Novel of the Roman Empire by Ruth Downie
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Gaius Ruso, Medicus to the Twentieth Legion, and his wife, Briton barbarian, Tilla are once more in Britannia. Though Ruso's commission had expired while he was on sick leave at home in Gaul, his friend and fellow Medicus, Valens, pulled some strings and got him reinstated. The two find themselves in Eboracum ( modern day York ) awaiting a visit from Emperor Hadrian and his Empress, Sabrina. The Legion has had its ranks increased by the recent recruitment of young Britons but there seems to be something strange happening among them. One recruit has died mysteriously, another jumps from a roof in front of Ruso for no apparent reason and yet another is in the sick bay with a very serious self-inflicted wound to one of his arms.
Ruso's suspicions are aroused by his subordinate's attributing the death of the first recruit as accidental despite bodily injuries that point to a serious beating. When he finds the written report supporting his suspicions he begins to ask questions.
He is thwarted at every turn in his investigation and when the commanding officer of the recruits is found murdered he finds himself the accused murderer. Stripped of his commission once more he is told that Tilla is to be returned to her family since they are now divorced. How the two of them manage to solve the mystery and make a choice where they will be stationed next is an exciting tale of whitewash and scapegoat tactics to keep the peace in the Legion and protect its officers. All is resolved in the end but not without Tilla's headstrong disobedience to her husband and the Tribune who is his superior, which, as always, adds to the confusion before the solution.

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