Saturday, 1 January 2000

The Roman Mysteries

A series of children's detective novels (middle grade) by Caroline Lawrence, set during the short reign of the Emperor Titus. Flavia Gemina and her friends Jonathan, Nubia and Lupus solve various mysteries including theft, kidnapping and murder, while navigating growing up in a culture where the girls expect to be married by the age of fifteen.

The books successfully walk a fine line between remaining suitable for the target age group, while staying faithful to the harsh realities of Roman life. Most of the earlier books stand alone to some extent, but the later stories are best read in order.

1. The Thieves of Ostia
2. The Secrets of Vesuvius
3. The Pirates of Pompeii
4. The Assassins of Rome
5. The Dolphins of Laurentum
6. The Twelve Tasks of Flavia Gemina
7. The Enemies of Jupiter
8. The Gladiators from Capua
9. The Colossus of Rhodes
10. The Fugitive from Corinth
11. The Sirens of Surrentum
12. The Charioteer of Delphi
13. The Slave-girl from Jerusalem
14. The Beggar of Volubilis
15. The Scribes from Alexandria
16. The Prophet from Ephesus
17. The Man from Pomegranate Street

Interview with Caroline Lawrence

There is a spin-off series, The Roman Mystery Scrolls, for younger readers (aimed at children of around 8 years old) which takes place after the action of the main series, but which can be read first without spoiling too much, and without needing any prior knowledge of the middle grade series.

The Roman Mystery Scrolls
The Sewer Demon
The Poisoned Honey Cake
The Thunder Omen
The Two-Faced God

Several of the books have been adapted for television by the BBC, in a production that looks absolutely gorgeous and boasts Simon Callow as Pliny the Younger - you didn't get this sort of thing on CBBC when I was watching it! (although Maid Marian and her Merry Men was the most awesome show ever all the same).

Series One
The Secrets of Vesuvius
The Pirates of Pompeii and The Assassins of Rome
The Dolphins of Laurentum
The Enemies of Jupiter

Series Two
The Gladiators from Capua
The Trials of Flavia Gemina
The Colossus of Rhodes
The Fugitive from Corinth
The Slave Girl from Jerusalem

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