Anat Rosenberg
March 16, 2007 AT 04:00 AM EDT

The Roman Empire has provided fodder for great dramatic tales. Alas, Medicus is not one of them. Ruth Downie’s debut follows Gaius Petrius Ruso, a recently divorced Roman Army doctor stationed in Britannia and an all-around well-meaning guy just looking for a fresh start. Unfortunately, Ruso’s good intentions constantly ensnare him in challenging predicaments. After two working girls from a nearby bar turn up dead, Ruso feels compelled to investigate when he realizes that no one else will. Despite the author’s efforts to drum up suspense (who murdered the prostitutes? Will Ruso himself become a target?), an extra dose of excitement would have helped Medicus go down better. C

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