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    Review of THE JUDGMENT OF CAESAR by Steven Saylor (see his website)

    St. Martin's Minotaur, June 2004

    When a storm blows his ship off course, Roman investigator Gordianus is captured by the one man who most hopes to see him dead--Pompey the Great. Before he can carry out his threats, however, Pompey himself is killed by the Egyptian king, Ptolemy and Gordianus makes his way to Alexandria just in time to see Julius Caesar taking control. Caesar intends to secure Egypt as a base, ensure that Pompey's allies cannot use it agaisnt him, and then move on but the conflict between Ptolemy and his sister/wife/rival, Cleopatra threatens Caesar's peace.

    Cleopatra and Ptolemy both use every persuasion possible to encourage Caesar to chose them as the singular ruler of Egypt. In the course of this persuasion, Gordianus's estranged son, Meto, is accused as an attempted assassin and Gordianus realizes that he will lose his son forever if he doesn't do his best detecting ever. Unfortunately, if Meto isn't the poisoner, either Ptolemy or Cleopatra probably is--and Caesar is unwilling to allow either of them to be accused.

    Author Steven Saylor (see more reviews of mysteries by Saylor) spins a convincing and gripping tale of Egypt in the dying days of the Roman Republic. Egypt's wealth makes it a treasure that Rome must have, but its mysterious religions and its concepts of god-king make it anathema to republican Romans like Gordianus. Saylor deepens the mystery and the reader's emotional involvement in the story by making Gordianus a fascinating and complex character. His love for his wife (despite an affair), his torn feelings for Meto, and his wish for the republican virtues of a vanishing Rome engaged my sympathies and increased my investment in the story and in Gordianus finding a solution to what seemed an insolvable problem. Indeed, the actual Judgment of Caesar comes down to solving the unsolvable.

    Saylor's strong writing and fascinating insights into history add to the book's appeal. THE JUDGMENT OF CAESAR is a winner.

    Four Stars

    Reviewed 7/13/04

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