read_warbler (read_warbler) wrote,

Two crime titles

My reading continues to be slow this month... various reasons such as the garden and this week, family stuff with the halfterm holidays. I have managed to read a bit though and this post is all about getting myself up to date with a couple of crime book reviews.

First up, The Dark Horse by Craig Johnson.

Wade Barsad, a rancher with a criminal past, has been shot dead by his wife, Mary. He burned down the barn, killing her beloved horses, so she shot him six times in the head. Has confessed in fact. But something about the case is making Sheriff Walt Longmire uneasy. Quite a few people had reason to want Barsad dead and despite her confession Mary seems vague and confused. Longmire goes undercover to another county, where he doesn't have juristicion, to investigate.

For some reason I didn't love this the way I've loved previous books in the Walt Longmire series. It was ok, not terrible, but I found the manner in which the timeline shifts back and forth distracting. The book starts with him arriving in the town where he's going undercover but then proceeds to go back a week or so and then forward again... all through the book. Not keen on this way of presenting a story to be honest. I also missed the cast of characters that usually inhabit these books, Henry Standing Bear, Vic, Ruby and so on. They made brief appearances but not really enough for me. What I did enjoy, as always, was the Wyoming setting. It's a huge canvas and the author always tranports me right there. One section where Walt and two other characters set off to camp on a mesa was beautifully described and funnily enough that was actually when the plot took off for me. The Dark Horse is book 5 in the Longmire series and the last of the books that I own. I now have to decide whether to buy any more. It's also my book 13 for Bev's Mount TBR 2015 challenge.

Next, Roman Blood by Steven Saylor.

Gordianus the Finder is an investigator of crimes in Rome in 80BC. A slave known as Tiro arrives one morning asking him to accompany him to his master, Cicero, an advocate, who has work for him. An elderly man, Sextus Roscius, has been murdered in the street in the middle of the night. The man's son has been arrested for the murder. Even though he was out of the city at the time it's thought he arranged for three men to kill his father. But some greedy relations stood to gain from the old man's death and have now taken over the family farm. Cicero, wants Gordianus to help him prove the son's innocence... but it's not as straightforward as it sounds. Rome is nothing if not corrupt and that corruption goes all the way to the top, to the current dictator, Sulla. This case could be extremely dangerous to Gordianus's health and to those who associate with him.

I really liked this! A friend suggested the series and lent me the first four books so I'm very pleased to be able to read more as and when I like. What I liked most was the historical detail. I've read a few books about Rome and of course seen I, Claudius on the TV. But books like this that are well researched can teach you lot. I knew there were slaves in ancient Rome for instance, but not to what extent they propped up society or minute details of their way of life and treatment. I found it fascinating. The crime element was also very good, lots of twists and turns and much intrigue surrounding the political situation. Not normally my sort of thing but it was well done here. All in all, a great start to a 'new to me' series and I look forward to reading more.
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