Author: Lisa E. Betz
Genre: Historical Fiction
Release Date: February 9, 2021
Sensible women don't investigate murders, but Livia Aemilia might not have a choice.
Rome, 47 AD. When Livia's father dies under suspicious circumstances, she sets out to find the killer before her innocent brother is convicted of murder. She may be an amateur when it comes to hunting dangerous criminals, but she's determined, intelligent, and not afraid to break a convention or two in pursuit of the truth. Plus, she's adopted a radical new faith that encourages her to believe a woman and a handful of servants can actually solve a murder.
Can she uncover the culprit before powerful men realize what she's up to and force her to stop? Or will her snooping land her in deadly peril?
A lighthearted historical mystery set in first-century Rome, featuring a feisty amateur sleuth, a cast of eccentric characters, and an unrepentant, sausage-snatching cat.
Reviewer: Mary Polyakov
In Death and a Crocodile, author Lisa Betz invites readers to ancient Rome on a hunt to solve a murder with an unconventional cast of characters.
I came across this book at a time when I wanted a narrative that was both set in Roman times and explored what it was like to follow Christ in those days, but didn't think I could find one I would really enjoy. It made coming across this book a memorable experience, and I was up until one in the morning, if I remember correctly, because I sorely wanted to know how the mystery played out. And play out it did. From the first interaction between Livia and the advocate, I was eager to see the path they would take in recognizing each other's strengths instead of constantly butting heads, and I was eagerly anticipating their interactions.
I did come across some things that sounded too modern, such as "any luck" and "graffiti," and I did wish the setting had been more immersive, but most readers likely won't be bothered by modern elements, as the mystery takes center stage.
As far as the faith content, it seemed to me that the protagonist shifted focus from living out her faith to finding someone who accepted her for who she was, whether or not that man shared her faith or was a godly influence. Not only did neither of the eligible men profess Christ, but this also didn't seem to be a problem for her in the least. She didn't consider whether it might be wrong for her to be unequally yoked or to make some of the other decisions she made, and neither did her church family speak up. However, this might be an intentional growth opportunity for the characters, depending on how the series continues.
The book also begins with a delightful section that functions as a handy catalogue of character bios. It was the first thing that drew me into the book, and I still enjoy flipping through it knowing how the lives of the characters, even the sausage thief of a cat, will intersect. It sets the tone nicely for the smooth writing style and the humor weaved into the suspenseful narrative.
Recommended for fans of historical fiction, mysteries, intersperced sarcastic observations, and spunky heroines.
I received a complimentary copy of this book for review courtesy of CrossLink Publishing through Interviews & Reviews. A positive review was not required.
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