Friday, 1 September 2000
Steven Saylor: Arms of Nemesis (1992)
Review number: 594
The second novel to feature Gordianus the Finder takes place during the slave revolt led by Spartacus. The man with a reputation for being the richest in the world, Marcus Crassus, hires Gordianus to find the murderer of his cousin. This appears to be easy, since the body was found with the word "Sparta" scrawled on the floor next to it, as though the murderer had been disturbed while writing the name of Spartacus, and two slaves have gone missing. Pre-supposing their guilt, Crassus has ordered that all the household slaves are to be executed at the end of the funeral, the old fashioned punishment decreed when a slave kills his master. (By appearing to be a stern supporter of the old ways, Crassus hopes that the Senate will grant him a commission to lead an army to destroy Spartacus, thus making his name as a great general.)
The puzzle is difficult, the background impeccable, the characters three-dimensional; Arms of Nemesis is an excellent historical detective story.