Currently reading...

I'm particularly fond of novels set in ancient Rome, particularly murder mystery/crime stories. I recently read the first four of John Maddox Robert's S.P.Q.R series, and while I was reading the fourth, The Temple of the Muses, I decided I really should make an effort and find out the truth behind the recurrent plots - the Roman killing a cat in Alexandria, what really happened during the rites of Bona Dea at Caesar's house etc . I've read a few general history texts on the period, but fancied something a bit more authoritative, and a bit juicier.

I'm reading Carolyn Hammond's translation, and while I have nothing to compare the translation to, it's very readable. I'm enjoying it a lot. My only gripe is with the footnotes - they should be footnotes; I really hate flicking to appendices to find out why a particular passage has been asterisked. The footnote was invented for a reason, it doesn't break your flow of reading for short notes.

As for Maddox; he's okay, but the writing quality is very uneven, and his S.P.Q.R series isn't as good as Lindsey Davis' long-running Falco series, or Rosemary Rowe's Libertus mysteries. However, Steven Saylor's excellent Roma Sub Rosa series eclipses them all in almost every way... start with Roman Blood, and read up on your Cicero while you're at it.

Posted: Wed - July 2, 2003 at 12:30 AM