The Venus Throw by Steven Saylor

St. Martin’s (first), 1995

This fourth in the Gordianus the Finder series begins in Rome, in 56 BC. Gordianus discovers that his old mentor, the Alexandrian philosopher Dio, has arrived from Egypt to ask the Roman Senate to grant official recognition to Egypt’s new ruler. Most of the envoy Dio traveled with has been murdered; within days he suffers the same fate. Soon an ex-neighbor of Gordianus’ is accused of the crime. Saddened by Dio’s death but unwilling at first to get involved, Gordianus finds himself hired to search out evidence against him. Saylor breathes vibrant life into several of ancient Rome’s most notable historical characters. Tinges of strange Eastern religions and scandalous sex spice up a plot that leads to one of ancient Rome’s most spectacular trials. Saylor has made a careful study not only of the history but also the literature of the period: the theme of love being unpredictable, sometimes ennobling, sometimes cruel and baffling, runs through the book as through ancient Roman poetry. A courtroom oration from Cicero himself provides a stirring climax. (Helen M Francini)

Originally published in Issue # 136 – March/April 1995

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