Ancient Rome was a Third World country.
Your odds of dying before the age of ten: 50%
Your odds of dying poor: 80%
Your odds of getting justice if you're on the bottom rung: 0%
Oh, and you're ruled by a paranoid despot. Welcome to the world of Plinius Secundus, a lawyer who's trying to beat the odds.
Rome: September, 96 AD. When the body of Sextus Verpa, a notorious senatorial informer and libertine, is found stabbed to death in his bedroom, suspicion falls on his household slavesa potential death sentence for them all.
The despotic emperor, Domitian, orders Gaius Plinius Secundusknown to history as Pliny the Youngerto investigate. However, the Ludi Romani (the Roman Games) have just begun and for the next fifteen days the law courts are in recess. If Pliny can't identify the murderer in that time, Verpa's entire slave household will be burned alive in the arena.
Pliny, a respectable young senator and lawyer, teams up with Martial, a starving author of bawdy verses and hanger-on to the city's glitterati. Pooling their talents, they unravel a plot that involves Jewish and Christian "atheists," exotic Egyptian cultists, and a missing horoscope that forecasts the emperor's death.
Read Chapter One
Read about Pliny's world: background, sources, map, and pictures
Read a Q & A with Bruce
Roman Games is available in hardcover, paperback, ebook and audiobook.
"Macbain, a scholar of ancient Greek and Roman history, leads the reader down the mean and dirty streets of Rome to find a conspiracy of hatred and greed that ends in an entanglement of diverse religious groups united by a mutual hatred of the emperor. VERDICT: This debut is sure to appeal to fans of Steven Saylor and Lindsey Davis."
"Macbain's debut novel convincingly re-creates everyday life in ancient Rome, weaving real and fictional characters with aplomb."
"The story is full of suspense with nice twists which keep the reader occupied."
Roman History Books and More
"This is a hard book to put down: fast-moving, exciting and thought-provoking."
Historical Novels Review
"Roman Games is a murder mystery of many rich layers...It ticked all the right Roman boxes for me."
Poisoned Pen Press, hardcover, October 2010, ISBN-13: 9781590587751
Poisoned Pen Press, paperback, October 2010, ISBN-13: 9781590587768