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More Ancient Roman Detectives - of the Female Persuasion

Updated on September 13, 2014

Celebrating Sleuths in Sandals and Stolas

I've said it before - some of the very best private detectives crack their cases while wearing togas. Or tunics.

Sometimes, as we will see, they undertake their investigations in an ankle-length tunic, a stola.

I'm a great fan of detective fiction, of Ancient Rome too and, as I made my way through historical Whodunit mysteries, I had the pleasure to meet these female sleuths from the glory days of the Roman Empire.

Alma Tadema

A new sleuth from an old master

Falco, well established gumshoe (or gumsandal), is featured in twenty novels by Lindsey Davis but is it time for him to retire?

I don't think so and I certainly hope not, but the next generation in the Falco family has appeared.

Flavia Albia

As her name suggest, Albia is from Britain and we first met her in The Jupiter Myth as a pre-teen scavenger on the grimy streets of Londinium. Falco adopted the waif who is now an adult, and an Informer herself.

I hope we haven't seen the last of Falco, a thoroughly modern detective in a toga, but Flavia has learned her craft from her foster father. She's just as moodily she was when Falco rescued her from the rubble of a battle-scarred city but, as we always suspected, her wit and keen intelligence shine as bright as a newly-forged sword.

Falco's adopted daughter takes over

The Ides of April: A Flavia Albia Mystery (Flavia Albia Series)
The Ides of April: A Flavia Albia Mystery (Flavia Albia Series)

A deftly woven plot based on true events - Flavia makes a stunning debut as the next generation of Private Informers in the first century


Aurelia Marcella

The adventures of Aurelia Marcella could be classified as Historical Romance if it weren't for the fast-paced action and the murder mysteries.

Still, I'm in two minds about where Aurelia's stories should be classified.

Overall, I enjoyed the light reading and, while they didn't satisfy me entirely, I enjoyed the journeys to Ancient Britain just 30 years after Rome has conquered the island. But is it really conquered?

Roman Britain, 91 CE

Get Out or Die: An Aurelia Marcella Roman Mystery (Aurelia Marcella Series)
Get Out or Die: An Aurelia Marcella Roman Mystery (Aurelia Marcella Series)

The natives are restless. That's so often the way when you live in a country you've conquered, but Aurelia is trying to be a good settler, honest, hardworking and respectful of the Britons. She's naturally perturbed by the message "All Romans Will Be Killed. Get Out Or Die".

What can Aurelia Marcella in her isolated tavern do when the message comes close to home?


Claudia in the Reign of Constantine

I first came across author Paul Doherty from his series set in the 14th century featuring Brother Athelstan, a Dominican monk. From there I found Mathilde of Westminster of that same century in three smashing murder mysteries set in the court of Edward 11.

After reading all of these delightful books, I discovered Claudia in the palace of Constantine, the Emperor of the West.

Claudia is a member of the Agentes in Rebus, which looks at first glance to be 'Agents of Things'. Sounds credible enough for a spy network but it translates as "Those who are Active in Matters". Claudia is one of the imperial agents, often secret, of the Emperor.

Claudia, Informer to the Royal Palace

Ravenna, Capitol of the Empire in the 5th century

A pivotal time in Western history! Valentinian is on the throne but it's really his mother, Galla Placida, who wields the power.

Noble families slay each other, new religious cults are competing and Carthage has fallen to the Vandals. It's in this vicious political period that Arcadia is being trained by her husband Getorius to become a physician like himself.

Murder and Mystery in Ravenna

The Secundus Papyrus (A Getorius and Arcadia Mystery Book 1)
The Secundus Papyrus (A Getorius and Arcadia Mystery Book 1)

It's Winter in chilly, rain-soaked Ravenna, where a mysterious scroll is found on the corpse of a religious hermit.

Arcadia and her husband, the surgeon Getorius, must solve this mystery before devastating repercussions on the Empire are unleashed, and before they themselves become the next victims


More Investigators from Ancient Rome

Best Whodunits in Ancient Rome
Four sleuths from Ancient Roman times. Gordianus, Decius and Falco are typical gumshoes (or gumsandals), cynical investigators who would have been quite at home with Sam Spade and Philip Marlowe. Libertus, however, would have enjoyed a nice cup of tea with Miss Marple. ...

How about you?

Have you met these Lady Detectives before?

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    • profile image

      Ask_Me 4 years ago

      A couple of good ones here - thanks!

    • profile image

      Agapantha 4 years ago

      I've read some Aurelia Marcella mysteries. Light entertainment, perfect for an afternoon reading in the deckchair

    • mariacarbonara profile image

      mariacarbonara 4 years ago

      Must have been so interesting in ancient times. Before tv and the internet the power of the spoken word must have been huge so to be a detective of sorts in those days would have been thrilling although I suspect somewhat dangerous too

    • profile image

      Science-Fiction-Fan 4 years ago

      Looking forward to meeting Flavia Albia

    • oztoo lm profile image

      oztoo lm 4 years ago

      It's nice to meet a few ladies represented in this genre from the days of Ancient Rome.