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Saturday 16 June 2018

‘Danger In The Wind’ by Jane Finnis.

Published by Poisoned Pen Press.
6 December 2011.
ISBN 978-1-59058-892-5

It is 100 AD and Britannia seems to be settling down under Roman rule.  Aurelia Marcella, innkeeper of the Oak Tree Mansion, situated not far from York, is more concerned with domestic matters than political.  Her twin brother, Lucius has returned from the south, bringing with him the girl he intends to marry.  Vitellia is beautiful, rich and sweet-natured but Aurelia thinks she lacks the intelligence and force of character to make her brother a good wife.  To add to Aurelia's troubles her cousin Jovina invites her to visit her for her birthday party, a pleasant social invitation, except the last paragraph begs Aurelia to come and help her because 'there is danger in the wind.'  Jovina and her soldier husband are stationed in Isurium, an undistinguished fort further north and Aurelia has not seen her for some years.  On the same day a traveller is brutally murdered while staying at Aurelia's mansio and he proves to be a soldier, also stationed at Isurium.

Lucius is an investigator for the Emperor and he discovers that Eurytus, the Emperor's tax collector and the most hated man in Britannia, is also due to visit Isurium and there are threats of native uprising in the area.  Lucius, as Head of the Family, forbids Aurelia to go to Isurium.  He should have known better.  Aurelia is not a woman who would allow anyone to dictate to her in such matters and she heads straight up north to Jovina's aid.

Events in Isurium escalate alarmingly and Aurelia finds herself in a web of passion, greed, jealousy and political intrigue, which swiftly leads to violence and family tragedy.  As Aurelia struggles to prove the innocence of a kinsman accused of murder and to prevent native unrest erupting into a full-scale rebellion, she is grateful for the help of her brother Lucius and Vitellia, who proves not to be as lacking in spirit as Aurelia feared.  Above all, Aurelia is glad of the presence of her lover, Quintus Antonius Delfinus, a senior Imperial investigator, with whom Aurelia has shared many adventures.

Danger In The Wind is the fourth book featuring Aurelia Marcella and, as a series it gets better all the time.  The honest, witty and direct voice of Aurelia recounting the story; the warm (and at times mischievous) characterisation; the historical detail, which transports the reader to that time and places without ever becoming intrusive and the fast-paced who-dunnit style of the Aurelia books make them all page-turners.  I read Danger In The Wind in less than two days.
Reviewer: Carol Westron
Earlier books in the series are Get Out or Die, A Bitter Chill and Buried Too Deep.

Jane Finnis read history at the University of London before working as a radio producer for the BBC.  Her four Roman mysteries are about life (and death) in first-century Roman Britain. They feature Aurelia Marcella, who runs an inn on the road to York, and keeps getting drawn into solving mysteries in what is still a new frontier province of the mighty Roman Empire. Jane now lives in  east Yorkshire and spends her time researching and writing about the Roman Empire.

Carol Westron is a successful short story writer and a Creative Writing teacher.  She is the moderator for the cosy/historical crime panel, The Deadly Dames.  Her crime novels are set both in contemporary and Victorian times.  The Terminal Velocity of Cats the first in her Scene of Crimes novels, was published July 2013. Carol recently gave an interview to Mystery People. To read the interview click on the link below.

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