Readers who enjoy historical mystery fiction will be pleased with the recent release of Bruce Macbain’s "The Bull Slayer." In this second volume in Macbain’s "Plinius Secundus" series Gaius Plinius Secundus (Pliny), confronts trouble on both professional and personal levels as he takes on a new assignment as governor of the Black Sea province of Bithynia in 108 A.D.
Assigned to eliminate the corruption that flourished during the previous governor’s reign, Pliny’s job becomes more complicated when both Marcus Vibius Balbus, the Fiscal Procurator of the province, and Balbus’s chief accountant, Silvanus, go missing. When Balbus’s body is later found, suspicion first falls upon Silvanus for his murder, with embezzlement as the presumed motive.
Pliny is puzzled, though, by a possible connection between Balbus’s death and the rising popularity of a Mithras-worshiping religious cult. Pancrates, a fraudulent fortune teller, and a well-known orator called Diocles the Golden Mouth both have connections to the cult.
Meanwhile, Pliny’s much younger wife, Calpurnia, becomes romantically involved with a man closer to her own age. Her attraction to Agathon, a wealthy and self-centered provincial, will have tragic consequences.
Kirkus Reviews says that "The Bull Slayer" “takes its time developing its whodunit but consistently entertains along the way." Jack Goodstein, on Blogcritics.com, adds, "A book like Bruce Macbain’s The Bull Slayer is a bargain. You get two books for the price of one - a challenging mystery thriller and a well-researched historical novel."
FTC Full Disclosure: A review copy of this book was provided by its publicist.
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