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Buried Too Deep

Buried Too Deep

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Another mystery novel from the ever popular Poisoned Pen Press.

The spring of 98 AD is a time of optimism in the turbulent frontier province of Britannia. Business is brisk at the mansio (inn) on the road to York that Aurelia Marcella runs with her twin brother Lucius. Then a wagon arrives bearing a local farmer with a grievous sword wound who is seeking treatment with the local Greek doctor. And Lucius appears at the mansio on a mission. When the farmer dies, the twins head for the coast to return the man to his family and to check out a shipwreck bearing valuable official cargo. A band of outlawed sea-raiders led by a Gaul are suspected of stealing it along with killing the farmer. It all adds up to the feuding that has erupted between the colonists and the natives. The natives claim the newcomers are stealing the best farmland, while the settlers accuse the locals of plotting rebellion against Rome. Both sides are using terrorist tactics: burning, kidnapping, and even murder. The trouble escalates and long-buried grudges are revived as counsellors, citizens, chiefs, and slaves mix in. But a subtle, personal agenda is at work as well—one or more of the combatants may have hired the Gauls to orchestrate the violence. This is the third novel in the Aurelia Marcella series.

In Finnis's spirited if at times overly complicated third Roman historical to feature innkeeper Aurelia Marcella, who runs the Oak Tree mansio in the wilds of occupied Britannia (after 2005's A Bitter Chill), sea raiders believed to be led by a barbarian, Voltacos, have been attacking people along the coast. Aurelia's twin brother, Lucius, a government agent, arrives to investigate the possibility that these raiders are gold-seeking marauders from Gaul. Meanwhile, greedy Roman landowner Ostorius Magnus and his unsavory nephew have been squeezing tribesmen off their lands. A shipwreck sets off rumors of buried treasure when the vessel's strongbox is found to contain a severed head rather than the expected plunder. During their long quest, Aurelia and Lucius spot Voltacos's men mysteriously digging a trench. Various murders further muddy the case. Some readers may have trouble keeping track of the many characters, but all will cheer the upbeat ending. (June)

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