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Publisher's Summary

Ruso and Tilla's excitement at arriving in Rome with their new baby daughter is soon dulled by their discovery that the grand facades of polished marble mask an underworld of corrupt landlords and vermin-infested tenements. There are also far too many doctors - some skilled - but others positively dangerous.
Ruso thinks that he has been offered a reputable medical practice only to find that his predecessor, Doctor Kleitos, has fled, leaving a dead man in a barrel on the doorstep and the warning "be careful who you trust." Distracted by the body and his efforts to help a friend win the hand of a rich young heiress, Ruso makes a grave mistake, causing him to question both his competence and his integrity.
With Ruso's reputation under threat, he and Tilla must protect their small family from Doctor Kleitos' debt collectors and find allies in their new home while they track down the vanished doctor and find out the truth about the heiress' dead father - Ruso's patient - and the unfortunate man in the barrel.
©2016 Ruth Downie (P)2016 Tantor
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By Jean on 10-19-16

Life in Ancient Rome

This is book seven of the series. In this story Gaius Petraeus Ruso, his wife Tila and baby daughter Mara, have arrived in Rome from Britain. Former Tribune Accius has offered Ruso the home and medical practice of a Doctor Kleitos. Kleitos has vanished. Horiatis Balbo, a patron of Kleitos’s is convinced someone is trying to poison him and only Kleitos’s mysterious medial prescription will protect him. Balbo suddenly dies. Ruso and Tila are trying to solve the mystery of Kleitos and Balbo.

The book is well written and the move to Rome adds a new excitement to the story. Downie, as always, provides a realistic view of ancient Rome and provides historical insight to the story. The characters feel real, the plot is complex and the suspense builds throughout the story. As with all Downie books there is a subtle dry humor which I enjoy. I am always amazed at the detail of Roman life that Downie works into her story. The squalid conditions and corruption that was Rome is vividly portrayed by Downie.

Simon Vance does an excellent job narrating the story. Vance is a British actor and award winning audiobook narrator.

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8 of 8 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Patricia on 08-14-16

Thank you for another completely wonderful listen!

I love these books so much I will listen to them again. They transport me to another time as an observer in the midst of the action so clear and colourful is the description of the scenes.
As always, the writing is witty, the characters are now my friends, and the narration is superb! Thank you!

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4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Rachel on 03-27-18

Brilliant Who Done it Roman Style

This is my last book to read in the series and I have enjoyed everyone of them immensely. The characters are well defined and each catches you attention immediately. I have come to love the characters and feel like a visit with old friend. You can jump in anywhere, but I would suggest following them in order. I have also learned much about Ancient Rome and the many inventions by Rome that we are still using. Ever time I stem on my underfloor heating I think of Russo and Tilla. Great series.

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4 out of 5 stars
By Debbie Rowe on 08-16-17

Same high level of quality characters & story

If you could sum up Vita Brevis: A Crime Novel of the Roman Empire in three words, what would they be?

Atmospheric, endearing & intriguing

What did you like best about this story?

The meeting of an old enemy. The extremes of wealth and poverty in Rome and how the glamour and glitz of the city did not fool anybody.

Which character – as performed by Simon Vance – was your favourite?

Russo and his arch enemy (don't ask me to spell his name, please). Never been keen on Tilla, she's a tad too whiney and stubborn for my taste.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes but it was too long for that. However, the story line made it easy to follow up after breaks.

Any additional comments?

I really hope this isn't the last Russo book.

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