Jump to content
megustaleer

Mysteries set in the Ancient World ?

Recommended Posts

Other than the Falco series (which has its own thread here ), are there any other Crime/Thrillers/Mysteries set in the Ancient World?

I guess that would cover Ancient Rome, Greece, Egypt, & Biblical settings. Any other?

 

Grammath mentioned the authors Steven Saylor and David Wishart on the Falco thread - has anyone read any of their books?

 

Please keep this thread fairly general, and post any discussion of a particular book, or a specific author's work in the "Crime (etc ) - Authors and Books" forum

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Roman Series that I have enjoyed and recommend:

Steven Saylor's Roma Sub Rosa series stars Gordianus the Finder

David Wishart's series about Marcus Corvinus.

 

Others that I have heard about:

Gary Corby's Greek mysteries

Margaret Anne Doody's Aristotle Detective series

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Expanding on the above entry.

 

David Wishart started off with a one-off novel about Virgil. The inspiration for "I, Virgil"  a fictional autobiography of the Roman poet, came from an essay he had written as a student at the University of Edinburgh where he studied classics. “It wasn’t a crime book but it did have an historical puzzle and that’s what interested me.” Wishart then looked for other historical puzzles that would make interesting novel plots and the next one he came up with was “Why was the Roman poet Ovid sent to the Black Sea and never allowed back?” His novel "Ovid" was the first to feature Marcus Corvinus, the Roman nobleman sleuth who would go on to star in a whole series of historical crime novels.

The books, which are set during the rule of Tiberius are funny, clever and entertaining. They are not hard work.

 

Steven Saylor's Roma Sub Rosa series are set during the last days of the republic. Roma Sub Rosa means, Rome under the rose. If a matter was sub rosa, "under the rose", it meant that such matter was confidential. The stories take place against an accurate historical background and often reveal details of Roman life that isn't common knowledge. This series is very clever, quality literature. Highly recommended.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Here is a list for Ancient Egypt: http://www.noreen-doyle.com/EgyptomaniaOrg/aef/Egyptmyst.html

And an exhaustive site on crime/thriller settings in ancient Rome: http://histmyst.org

Couldn't find anything on crime among Gauls or Germani. Seems their mindsets were too straightforward to produce any reasonable sleuths ...

Edited by Romanike

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Lindsay Davies has also started a new series featuring Flavia Alba, Falco's adopted daughter.  I haven't read either of the books but they look promising.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Not aware of any - but I think a difficulty with crime novels set in older times is that the concept of policing, detection and justice have evolved considerarably. I remember a TV series called Cadfael where a mediaeval monk investigated crimes in a very modern way - I couldn;t help thinking that a real mediaeval monk would have tortured suspects until they repented or tried them by ordeal.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Not if you listen to the former Pope, old Ratzinger. According to him, the Holy Inquisition was the first institution that applied modern investigative methods. Really. I have heard him saying that in an interview. But of course, he was head of the Inquisition, or its modern successor, so what else could he say?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Not if you listen to the former Pope, old Ratzinger. According to him, the Holy Inquisition was the first institution that applied modern investigative methods. 

I guess they used modern torture. As long as the skin wasn't broken a monk or priest could administer torture. Burning with irons and stretching on the rack allowed torture without shedding blood. Very modern... :yup:

 

They probably used sleep deprivation and water-boarding as well.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Not aware of any - but I think a difficulty with crime novels set in older times is that the concept of policing, detection and justice have evolved considerarably. I remember a TV series called Cadfael where a mediaeval monk investigated crimes in a very modern way - I couldn;t help thinking that a real mediaeval monk would have tortured suspects until they repented or tried them by ordeal.

 Cadfael (I am reading him now) had no need to torture anyone. He was the 12th century Sherlock Holmes, (thus solving crimes in a very modern way, I suppose - or vice versa) using his keen eyesight, knowledge of Shrewsbury, knowledge too of his days as an adventurer and thus of all kinds of human frailties, and deductive powers to solve his cases in the most gentle of manners. He was also Welsh, if that helps. :) However, there were those characters in the Abbey who would have been delighted to rip out finger nails given half a chance.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Cadfael (I am reading him now) had no need to torture anyone. He was the 12th century Sherlock Holmes, (thus solving crimes in a very modern way, I suppose - or vice versa) using his keen eyesight, knowledge of Shrewsbury, knowledge too of his days as an adventurer and thus of all kinds of human frailties, and deductive powers to solve his cases in the most gentle of manners. He was also Welsh, if that helps. :) However, there were those characters in the Abbey who would have been delighted to rip out finger nails given half a chance.

I have all of the Brother Cadfael books and I am looking forward to reading them sometime in the future :). The character and the book titles grabbed me from the start. Another great series is the Peabody books, set in the 1800's Peabody is the wife of an Archaeologist and the stories mostly revolves around the mysteries that crop up while they excavating the ancient Egyptian tombs around Egypt.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There is a series of books about a Celtic nun, Sister Fidelma,  who is also  a dalaigh or advocate of the ancient law courts of Ireland and set mid seventh century AD. They are written by a Celtic scholar, Peter Beresford Ellis, under the pseudonym Peter Tremaine. 

 

They are basically murder mysteries but with extra interest as Fidelma's adventures are  based around  the practical application of the Celtic Law.  There were also clear descriptions of the life and times, the succession  of the rulers and the law itself which was just, balanced, fair and in general respected by the populace.  It wasn't until the missionaries from Rome started interfering that things fell apart and you see the beginnings of this in the first book, which deals with the Council of Whitby, and you see more in the later books. There are quite a lot of books now, and I haven't read them all. They do need to be read in order to keep both Fidelma's personal life and Irish history of the time straight in your mind as you go.

 

These are the first four, in order, and I enjoyed them all.

 

1. Absolution by Murder

2. Shroud for the Archbishop

3. Suffer the Little Children

4. The Subtle Serpent

 

There is a detailed website by  Fidelma enthusiasts with excellent information here.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I do remember a thriller series whose detective was a priest of Anubis in a fantasy version of Ancient Egypt, I think it was based on some RPG. It was not particularly sophisticated, but just for the record.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Alison Morton's Roma Nova series (latest Inceptio, reviewed by me elsewhere)is obviously well-researched, though set in the 21st Century.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×