FFB: A Gladiator Dies Only Once

this is the 100th in my series of seldom read or forgotten books

A Gladiator Dies Only Once The Further Investigations of Gordianus the Finder by Steven Saylor © 2005, St. Martin Minotaur 2005 trade paperback, featuring Gordianus the Finder – historical mystery short story collection

Gordinius AdventuresThis collection contains 9 stories, “The Consul’s Wife”, “If A Cyclops Could Vanish In The Blink of An Eye”, “The White Fawn”, “Something Fishy in Pompeii “, “Archimedes’ Tomb”, “Death By Eros”, “A Gladiator Dies Only Once”, “Poppy and the Poisoned Cake”, The Cherries of Lucullus” plus a partial chronology of the life and times of Gordianus the Finder, very helpful in placing the stories within the author’s Roma sub Rosa series.

This is the second collection of Gordianus short stories, the first being The House of the Vestals (1998). The stories in this collection have all been published previously.

I read Saylor’s Roman Blood years ago, after it was recommended to me by the still much missed Sue Feder. I loved it but soon found that these dense, witty, fascinating novels of Rome weren’t, for me, for reading one after the other. It was a couple of years before I read Arms od Nemesis the second book in the Roma sub Rosa series. I also loved that one. Before I got any further with the novels, I read a collection of historical short stories, perhaps it was Crime Through Time which contained a Gordianus story and began my search for more of them, resulting in finding and reading The House of the Vestals, which I really liked.

As is true with all short story collections, some stories are stronger than others here, but I enjoyed them all. It’s always a pleasure to spend some time with Gordianus!

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

The rest of the Friday Forgotten Book posts
can be found at Patti Abbott’s blog Pattinaise

Note: Wow, 100 FFB posts. It’s kind of hard to believe! Of course many of the other folks who contribute to Friday Forgotten Books have done considerably more, but for me, 100 is a milestone.

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11 Responses to FFB: A Gladiator Dies Only Once

  1. Jeff Meyerson says:

    I’ve never read any of the several Roman-set mystery series out there other than Saylor’s first collection of stories. I doubt that will change but I might get around to this one.

  2. John says:

    Gordianus is a great character. Saylor does so much better with the mystery set in ancient times than any other mystery writer, I think. Compared to Lindsey Davis’ smart alecky Falco I much prefer Saylor’s straightforward approach. Being a historian he really knows the time period. He is also a much better mystery plotter than Davis. I think the best of the books is CATILINA’S RIDDLE. It’s one of the longest and densest of the series but it blew me away. What really interests me is that Stephen Saylor’s inspirations for writing mysteries are Sherlock Holmes and –are you ready — Hildegarde Withers! Not many people will admit to reading Stuart Palmer or singing his praises as much as Saylor does.

  3. Evan Lewis says:

    OK, this sounds pretty cool. Where were these stories originally published?

  4. cgramlich says:

    I haven’t read any gladiator fiction in a long time. Maybe It’s time to change that.

  5. Richard says:

    Jeff, Saylor is the best of the bunch, and the short stories are quite enjoyable even if he doesn’t have the room to really develop the setting and plot that you’ll find in the novels.

    John, I agree with you on all counts. Saylor is the best Roman period historical mystery writer, in my opinion.

  6. Richard says:

    Evan, these stories mostly first appeared in various anthologies: Crime Through Time I, II and III, Classical Whodunnits, Mammoth Book of Ancient Roman Whodunnits, Ellis Peters Memorial Anthology. The rest appeared in Ellery Queen Magazine.

  7. Richard says:

    Charles, Saylor is the best, in my opinion.

  8. I agree with you, Rick. Saylor is the best of the bunch. I have all his books, but have only read a couple. So many books, so little time. Congratulations on the 100 FFB milestone!

  9. Richard says:

    George, thanks very much, same to you on 200.

  10. Jeff Meyerson says:

    I have read and enjoyed the three Crime Through Time anthologies.

  11. Gerard says:

    He does indeed do a very good job. I read the first novel in his history of Rome and really enjoyed it.

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