is your source for affordable electronic fiction


Powered by FreeFind

Site search
Web search

    Review of THE RIVER GOD'S VENGEANCE by John Maddox Roberts


    Thomas Dunne Books, St. Martin's Minotaur, January 2004, January 2004

    Roman tenement apartments fall down all the time and aedile Decius Caecilius Metellus figures this is just another straightforward prosecution of building code violations. But as he investigates, he discovers that the pattern of late Roman Republican corruption has spread even further into the city than he had imagined. The building collapse might not be just bad building materials, but premeditated murder. And his investigations put him in both physical danger and at odds with his powerful family. And then there are the filthy sewers. With the Tiber River set to flood, the sewers seem ready to back up. To a good Roman, the crimes threaten to go beyond criminal all the way to impious.

    Decius makes a wonderful and memorable character with his offhand comments on Roman society, on figures like Caesar, Pompey, and Cicero that have become history, and with his strangely consistent attitudes toward corruption and friendship. This case pushes Decius outside of his comfort zone--making him deal with the one man he hates more than any other--the stuffy Cato. It also gives him plenty of opportunity to walk the streets of ancient Rome, dodge the gangs fighting for control of the dying republic, and give his pithy observations on the curious and fascinating social structures that made Rome work.

    Author John Maddox Roberts (see more reviews of novels by Roberts) does a fine job recreating a critical period in world history, delivering an interesting mystery that fits the historical period, and offering a fascinating first-person protagonist. I found myself laughing out loud at Decius's observations on his world--and his thoughts on humanity in general. Roberts's writing is fast-paced and compelling. I read the book in a single sitting then checked to make sure there weren't more books in the series that I need to get my hands on right away. I recommend THE RIVER GOD'S VENGEANCE to anyone who enjoys history, democratic government, or a rollicking good mystery.

    Four Stars

    Reviewed 3/05/04

    Ready to buy it now? Click the buy now button.

    Visit to read more reviews or to purchase THE RIVER GOD'S VENGEANCE from

    Rather buy it from Barnes and Noble?
    Click this link for THE RIVER GOD'S VENGEANCE from Barnes &

    What do you think? Too generous? Too stingy? Or did I miss the entire point? Send your comments to Give me the okay to use your name and I'll publish all the comments that fit (and don't use unprintable language).

    Have a web site? Check out these free services.