Pompeii: A Tale of Murder in Ancient Rome by @GaiusMarcellus Really fun character development.

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A Tale of Murder in Ancient Rome

by Robert Colton

History awaits an unsuspecting young man, fleeing the imperial capital and Nero's wrath. Arriving in Pompeii, Marcellus witnesses the funeral of a local man; the course of his life will be altered by this stranger’s death. Unable to stop the murder of a mysterious woman named Helen, Marcellus becomes the caretaker of the dead woman's newborn baby. Hiding in plain sight at a brothel, Marcellus is left to decipher Helen's secrets.

With the help of his overbearing servant and a seductive oracle, Marcellus must deduce who in Pompeii has blood on their hands. Helen's killer appears to be his greatest threat. Little does he know what cataclysm the Mighty Jove has designed. If Marcellus can survive the city's disaster, he just might expose a murderer and stay alive.

Praise for Pompeii

I know very little of ancient Rome and Pompeii, and I was concerned that I would be lost within the first five sentences. Not only could I follow the plot and cast of characters easily, I learned quite a bit about the culture and history of that time.

The book is laid out very well, and has many complex layers that the author weaves together well. The twists and turns are introduced via chapter-opening letters from the protagonist as an old man. I felt that made the first-person narration more natural and offered more opportunity to weave in language and history.

The character development was really fun. When I wasn't reading the book, I was thinking about it--specifically, the narrator's mysterious co-conspirator Tay.

The book was very character driven, which I loved. The characters, especially Tay, were so interesting you had to read the rest of the book if for no other reason than at least to learn more about Tay and Marcellus and see what they'd do next. I did have difficulty at first keeping the many Greek and Roman characters straight, but the author seemed to have anticipated this, as he included a very helpful list of characters in the front of the book.

The murders were told in minimally necessary detail and was not gory, which is what worried me initially about a "murder mystery." Without forensic science available, it made a lot of sense to include certain details and leave out others.

I loved learning about life in Ancient Rome and Pompeii, and it was evident that the author did his homework before writing about the people, events, and culture. I especially enjoyed learning about how the Egyptian, Greek and Roman cultures may have mixed.

First, I don't consider myself an avid reader. It typically takes me a long time to read a book and if the book doesn't appeal to me early on, I usually give it up. I expected to give this book up on that basis because it took me a while to keep all the characters straight. But I decided to stick with it and I got hooked, and it was hard to put it down after that.

The plot turned a lot in ways I didn't expect. I enjoyed the story and the characters. The descriptions were fantastic and in my mind's imagination, I could see the story on screen, playing out before me, like "Game of Thrones" or "Camelot". I would love for this story to get picked up by HBO or Showtime for a new mini-series. I personally can't wait for the sequel.

Book Trailer