It is Ancient Rome, and Gordianus the Finder has a knack for finding trouble. Known to many as the one man in the ancient world who can both keep a secret and uncover one, Gordianus lays bare some of his most intriguing and compelling adventures.
The House of the Vestals collects nine of the award-winning stories of Gordianus the Finder by critically acclaimed, bestselling author Steven Saylor. This historical collection of unique and unforgetable mysteries is Saylor at his finest—revealing the intrigues in the secret history of Rome.
"Ingenious . . . Saylor offers rich history with great imagination."—The Seattle Times
"Entertainment of the first order."—The Washington Post Book World
"Saylor's scholarship is breathtaking and his writing enthralls."—Ruth Rendell, The Sunday Times (London)
"It's no wonder Gordianus the Finder solves so many of these nine cases in a single flash of insight . . . [T]hree groups of readers will find these stories irresistible: history buffs who appreciate Saylor's careful research into Roman politics and Roman mores; fans of his five novels who want to find out how he first became Lucius Claudius' friend, or how he acquired his faithful slave Belbo; and anyone who enjoys leisurely, literate storytelling."—Kirkus Reviews
"After five novels in the Roma Sub Rosa series, Saylor fills the time frame between the first two books—80 to 72 B.C.—with this first collection of short stories featuring series sleuth Gordianus the Finder. In the crowded streets of late-Republic Rome, the rich and the poor, the living and the dead occupy close quarters. In 'The Lemures,' a wealthy couple's home, previously owned by an executed political enemy, is haunted by the dead man's ghost. When the new owner dies unexpectedly, his widow is sure that the ghost will kill her next. Gordianus mines his knowledge of botany, history and human psyches to ferret out the solution. The nobleman Lucius Claudius, summoned into the house of dying young man to witness his signing of his will, days later sees the young man out walking. He asks the Finder to investigate and, as Gordianus follows the trial of deceit in 'A Will Is a Way,' the two men embark upon a lasting friendship. Gordianus adopts a young mute boy, Eco; and his sultry Egyptian servant, Bethesda, gradually evolves from slave to friend to lover, and finally, wife. Her Egyptian-Jewish origins permit the author to incorporate sections of biblical lore in his stories. Saylor's fluid prose and probing characterization work as effectively in the short story as they have in his admirable Gordianus novels."—Publishers Weekly
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DEATH WEARS A MASK
"Eco," I said, "do you mean to tell me that you have never seen a play?"
He looked up at me with his big brown eyes and shook his head.
"Never laughed at the bumbling slaves who have a falling- out? Never swooned...