The Magazine for Crime & Mystery



The Chariots of Calyx

Rosemary Rowe

Headline £17.99

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Reviewed by Ayo Onatade

When the Roman Governor Perennis Felix invites Libertus to Londinium he hopes that he might catch sight of his wife, Gwellia. Murder is the furthest thing from his mind. Alas, when Libertus is asked by the Governor to investigate the murder of the chief corn-officer of the city Caius Monnius, he does not want to offend his host by refusing. Annia, the dead man's mother is certain that Fortunatus, a celebrated and rich charioteer, knows what happened. Of course, he was having an affair with Fulvia the young and beautiful wife of the deceased. The affair is only part of the problem that Libertus encounters. What happened to the missing wealth stolen from Monnius' room? Surely Fortunatus was rich enough not to have stolen from his lover's spouse? Could it be that the thief was one of the numerous dissatisfied business opponents and enemies whom Monnius had been swindling? When a second corpse is found then things begin to take a sinister turn.

There are a number of authors that set their books in the Roman period and as an avid reader of historical crime fiction (especially those set in Rome) they are most welcome. However, The Chariots of Calyx left me feeling somewhat despondent and annoyed. The plotting could have been tighter; it does not have the pace nor the wit that one would have expected after four books. One could be forgiven if this was Rosemary Rowe's first book. I was not left with the feeling that I desperately wanted to know what happened. In fact, I really couldn't care less. The ongoing thread of Libertus looking for his wife is a distraction that I thought was very irritating and a ploy that did not add anything to the storyline. It could have been taken out and one would not be the wiser. But now that they have been reunited what diversion will replace it? Libertus appears to be more morose as the series continues, which is a pity.

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