The Triumph of Caesar
A Gordianus the Finder Mystery by Steven Saylor
Review: At age 64, Gordianus the Finder is retired but cannot resist the plea of Calpurnia, the wife of Julius Caesar, to investigate a potential danger against the state in The Triumph of Caesar, the 10th full length novel (there have been 2 short story collections) in this series by Steven Saylor.
But Gordianus wasn't Calpurnia's first choice as she thought he was dead, drowned in Egypt; she'd originally hired a man she learns is Hieronymous, an old friend of Gordianus, who has now been murdered. The dead man has left a large number of papers that Gordianus decides to use as a starting point for his investigation. Hieronymous had a decidedly mixed view of his good friend, as he writes, "Beginning to think dear old Gordianus was a bit of a puffed-up charlatan. This 'finder' business not remotely as difficult, or as dangerous, as he always made it out to be. The tales he used to tell, portraying himself as the fearless hero on a relentless quest for the truth! Half of those stories were probably made up. Still, if he's truly dead, as people say, I shall miss the old windbag ..." More pertinent to the case, Hieronymous makes clear he believes Caesar may indeed be in danger. "I dare not write my supposition even here; what if this journal were to be discovered? Must keep it hidden. But what if I am silenced? To any seeker who finds these words and would unlock the truth, I shall leave a key. Look all around! The truth is not found in the words, but the words may be found in the truth." Gordianus is determined to continue the pursuit of the truth that Hieronymous began, a quest that would be infinitely easier if he could only decipher the code left in the journal.
Fans of historical mysteries will delight in the characterizations of people and places, and the detailed descriptions of life in Rome at the time The Triumph of Caesar takes place. The mystery plot is a good one, and, as befits its genre, incorporates a historical event. In some, maybe many, ways the book seems symbolic of the reign of Julius Caesar, which (though its characters don't know it) is drawing to a close. Gordianus is as mentally sharp as ever, but his body is getting old and he has trouble with physical activity. There can't be too many more adventures for this aging sleuth, but in the meantime, however many there may be are sure to be as remarkable as Gordianus the Finder himself.
Acknowledgment: Minotaur Books provided a trade paperback edition of The Triumph of Caesar for this review.
Review Copyright © 2009 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Location(s) referenced in The Triumph of Caesar: Rome, Italy
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The Triumph of Caesar by Steven Saylor — A Gordianus the Finder Mystery
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Format: Trade Paperback
Publication Date: July 2009
List Price: $14.99
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Page Author: Lance Wright
Site Publisher: Mysterious Reviews
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