13 BC, Rome. Claudia Seferius has, on the surface, a good life. Married to a wealthy Roman wine merchant, she has money, status and a happy marriage.
Well, not really. Her husband has married her as a status symbol, she has massive gambling debts and she is seeking to repay them by resorting to her previous, secret life – providing exclusive… services for wealthy Roman men. And one other slight problem – someone knows about her secret activities, as several of her clients have been turning up with their eyes gouged out.
Claudia’s appearance at a murder scene puts an investigator on her trail – so it seems that her only hope to avoid being accused of the murder herself is to find the real killer.
I guess we don’t know how people actually spoke in Ancient Rome and as such the author has the freedom to translate the latin being spoken into a variety of forms. The most common choice is a relatively formal approach, but this is not the case here. Claudia and the rest of the cast speak as if they are in a modern novel. It’s a perfectly acceptable choice, but it’s not my cup of tea.
That’s not the problem that I have with the book.
Claudia seems to be eternally making bad choices. Personally, I have trouble relating to a character with massive gambling debts who resorts to offering sexual favours (and distinctly odd sexual favours) to cover those debts, without ever really showing any regret or disappointment at what she is doing. Again, this is a character in a story, but I have trouble relating to a character who makes such choices, in particular in such an (at times) humorous story.
That’s not the problem either.
The problem is, despite Claudia deciding that she has to find the murderer, doesn’t spend any time actually doing this. As a detective, she doesn’t do any detecting, apart from spotting that the loony trying to kill her at the end of the story is probably the killer. She spends more time worrying over her gambling debts rather that who the killer who is clearly involved in her life is. A detective story without any real detection… that’s not my sort of thing at all.
But it’s written in a light tone and breezes along well. It seems to mostly serve as set-up for the rest of the series, which is being slowly released as ebooks, and, you may be surprised to read, I’m rather looking forward to the next in the series. I’m honestly not entirely sure why, as I didn’t particularly enjoy this one, but I can see a lot of potential in this series – I have read a couple of short stories featuring Claudia and they seemed fun. So this book isn’t particularly recommended, but I’ll let you know about the next one in due course.
Must admit, just the title is enough to turn me off …
The odd thing is, this was recommended to me by a couple of people (I think) back when I was doing the Original Sins thread. Still think I’ll have a look at book two at some point.
[…] ← I, Claudia by Marilyn Todd […]
Interesting. I don’t think I would have ever picked this book to read anyway, but I am glad I saw your review. The same things that did not appeal to you would probably not work for me.
[…] odd, it seems that I’ve gone back to the Original Sins thread. Last time we were (somewhat unsuccessfully) in Ancient Rome and this time we’re back in Ancient Egypt. […]