I recommend Jane Finnis’s Aurelia Marcella novels, the first of which is Shadows in the Night…Set in Roman Britain, these are enjoyable enough to overcome even the deepest-set prejudices against historical detective fiction
The Observer, 2/12/2012
I love to read historical novels that manage to transport me to a time and place. Jane Finnis does just this. Her gripping story of terrorism in Roman Britain is relevant and real for us today, and we can identify with the strong female protagonist while she remains true to her time.
––Rhys Bowen, May 2012
Set in the northern part of Roman Briton, just fifty years after the invasion, this is an interesting and engaging thriller. The characters are well-drawn and it is obvious that the writer has a great deal of knowledge of the period and the area. However, unlike so many historical novels, the author doesn't feel it necessary to impose on the reader everything they know with the result that the level of detail and background feel just right.
I found the book very compelling, and didn't want to put it down. Even my husband, who doesn't usually read thrillers or crime novels, but who is knowledgeable of Roman history, thoroughly enjoyed the book.
Recommended as a good read.
––Susan White, Euro Crime,
is an excellent book, gripping, with an excellent plot and wonderfully
realised characters.––Michael Jecks, April 2004
In Finnis's lively debut, a Roman historical set in northern Britain
in 91 A.D., ill-fated legionnaires contend with a ruthless band of guerrillas seeking
to rid their homeland of unwanted occupiers….the plot is timely as conquerors seek to impose
civilization on a barbarian culture that doesn't appreciate the new roads and
government or the increase in commerce.
––Publishers Weekly, December 2003
This is a wonderfully good-humored and easy-to-read tale for all
its considerable 350+ pages that hopefully heralds a new series.
Aurelia's contemporary, straight-talking style makes her a perfect narrator and the reader is plunged into a pacey story straight away....There is also a
convincing background of Romans who want to settle down and make a go of life on the frontier...When's the next one coming out?
––Rachel A. Hyde, February 2004.
Jane Finnis has definitely succeeded in rooting
the narrative in Roman Britain - from the interesting and refreshing
imagined viewpoint of a colonist who feels herself to have acquired
roots in the new province. I noted the care over linguistic and
archaeological details; but perhaps the most important thing is that the
overall impression is vivid and convincing, thanks to a lively but
disciplined use of historical imagination.
––Professor William Horbury, Cambridge University,
The story was fun to read, and I enjoyed it thoroughly.
–– Sally Fellows,
Mystery News, February 2004
What gives Jane Finnis' first novel a special edge of interest is that it's set in 91 A.D. in the Roman province of Britannia.....This gives Finnis the chance to mix history,
mystery and mayhem – always a lively brew in good hands.
Anyone who– like author Finnis--has ever marveled at how straight and
well-built many of the Roman roads of England still are should enjoy
this entertaining look back.
––Dick Adler, Chicago Tribune, January 2004
Finnis' story is told through
the eyes of Roman businesswoman Aurelia Marcella who doesn't understand
why anyone would object to being part of the far flung empire. This is a fast paced action backed historical
conspiracy thriller that readers will find fascinating due to the perspectives of the cast.
––Harriet Klausner, December 2003.
the first few pages
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I love a book that not only takes me back in time but goes to show that the more we think that we’ve changed the less we actually have. This mystery from Jane Finnis is...a book of twists, murder. Mayhem and of course a lead character that just steps off the page into the readers imagination. Whilst the book does take a little while to get into, when you do, you’ll be hooked. All round a great beginning and a whole set of adventures I can’t wait to embark upon.
––Falcata Times, December 2012
Finnis is an English writer, who lives in Yorkshire, close to where these novels are set. With a passion for Roman history it is her wish to reflect Britain 50 years after the Roman invasion as accurately as possible.
Aurelia is a strong, yet human character. The book is written in an easy and engaging manner, with a vivid, evocative description of Britain at the time. The story progresses quickly and with an easy fluidity. With its own particular style and approach it overall retains a light hearted style of novel, and makes for an engaging, enjoyable read.
––Sara Garland, BookNoir, January 2013
The story encompasses spying
and treachery, romance, heroism, and a vivid historical sense (the
author includes a section at the end of the book which explains what is
known about the area during the time in which the story is set). What
more could a reader ask for?
––Trudi E. Jacobson, Historical Novels
Review, February 2004
Finnis has wonderfully captured the earthy feel of Roman Britain. It is the
most evocative aspect of this book, illuminating for the reader some
semblance of a place and a time most people know nothing about...An enjoyable, convincing, and at times gripping read, a text where the setting itself shines as its most prominent character.
The diverse cast of characters at the fringes of
the empire--basically an expat community--includes soldiers, spies,
Druids, slaves, an entrepreneur from Gaul, a former Neronian courtier
and a social-climbing local chief who at times seems more Roman than the
Romans...A well-paced and entertaining
--Tom Baker, Daily Yomiuri Online, Japan,
A tale filled with surprises that will keep any reader
fascinated. The Romans may have built their roads straight from one point to another, but the roads laid by the author, Jane Finnis, contain twists and traps for the unwary reader who assumes they have figured out the plot...A great read that gives us a look at what life might have been like in Britain under Roman rule. Highly recommended as a story you will have a hard time putting down. Ms. Finnis gives the reader a unique and original story and you'll be looking for other books by this talented author. Enjoy.
––Anne K. Edwards, Murderandmayhem Online Book Club
History buff Jane Finnis shares her fascination with Roman history in
a new series set in the area near present-day York, England. In the year 91,
this is a frontier province, a sometimes uneasy mix of Roman settlers and
conquered Britons. There's an interesting premise here. We aren't too sympathetic
to colonizers any more, and here's a story told from a Roman point of
view. It is a given that the Roman invasion was a good thing, that the
"barbarian" natives ought to be grateful for the civilizing
effect of Rome, and that slavery is natural and reasonable. It takes a
little getting used to. Once past that hurdle, there is an interesting
story…We have the advantage of history to know that the Britons did
not repel the Romans, but it is interesting to immerse oneself in a
colony that fears it will be ousted.
––The Contra Costa Times, 9/12/04