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Nox Dormienda: A Long Night for Sleeping    by Kelli Stanley order for
Nox Dormienda
by Kelli Stanley
Order:  USA  Can
Five Star, 2008 (2008)
* * *   Reviewed by Lisa Respers France

How do you say wondrous in Latin? I wish I knew so I could pay the proper homage to Kelli Stanley's first in what I hope will be a long series. From the partridge eggs for breakfast to the temples with marble columns, Stanley plunges the reader into the world of Roman noir with a novel set in first century AD Londinium.

Narrated by the protagonist, Arcturus, the book has dialogue worthy of any noir film and quite nice pacing that winds through the garbage-strewn streets of ancient Roman civilization. Arcturus is physician to Agricola, the provincial governor who stands poised on the edge of civil war if someone doesn't solve the mystery of who killed a man in the employ of the Emperor. Added to the political murder mystery is the unfolding love story between Arcturus and Gwyna, the woman who was scheduled to marry the murdered man to raise her family out of the poverty that overwhelms them.

As an investigator, Arcturus harkens back to the old school private dicks with the snappy one-liners and observations with a Roman flair. Also like his predecessors, he is not without his own issues as he is part Briton and part Roman. That causes him to be viewed with suspicion by both sides that have an uneasy peace in the wake of the Roman conquest of Britain.

Stanley has deftly crafted an excellent historical whodunit, filled with fascinating secondary characters and enough intrigue to keep you turning page after page until the satisfying conclusion. Fans of this style of mystery will be anxiously awaiting Arcturus' next adventure.

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