Stone Cold: A Claudia Seferius Mystery by Marilyn Todd

Stone Cold: A Claudia Seferius Mystery by Marilyn Todd
Publisher: Untreed Reads
Genre: Historical, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (179 Pages)
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Cyclamen

Voted BoM by LASR Readers 2013 copy

The latest adventure for the Roman sleuth and glamorous heroine of I, Claudia Claudia was just ten years old when her father marched off to war and never came home. Now it’s time to uncover the truth about his disappearance. The search takes her to the dense, dark forests of Gaul, where Druid Law rules and human sacrifice is still practised. And staying at the villa of the cold, egotistical Marcia, who has even commissioned a spectacular tomb to ensure her immortality, Claudia can’t help noticing that several young women have disappeared from the local area. Suspicion quickly falls on a mysterious woodsman known as the Scarecrow, but she isn’t convinced. Nor has it escaped her notice that each victim is unblemished and in the fullness of bloom. Just as she is herself . . .

Claudia Seferius is a widow who is doing her best to succeed on her own. This is never easy, but it is especially challenging in Ancient Rome. In addition to her usual difficulties, she has decided to head to Gaul in order to discover the truth about her father’s disappearance when she was only ten years old. Each year her father would go off with the camp followers at the start of the campaign season and then each October he would return. But the year she turned ten he did not returned. Her mother tried unsuccessfully to get answers. Now it was Claudia’s turn, but it seems that no one can help. No one will say what happened in Santonum fifteen years ago. Any records are said to have been lost.

“Every person she spoke to would really have liked to have helped, were it not for the Fates conspiring against them. You wouldn’t credit so many natural disasters could have befallen one city, but it seemed there was no limit to the excuses she’d encountered, much less the inventiveness of the excusers. Quite why these people hadn’t taken up careers as playwrights she had no idea, but if Offialdom was hoping Claudia Seferius would give up and go home, it might as well wait for the moon to drop out of the sky.”

I really liked Claudia. She is a strong, capable woman with a mind of her own. She gets caught up in a few other mysteries while she is trying to find her father and the plot twists and turns between the various story lines. She stays at the villa of a very wealthy woman, Marcia, and it becomes apparent that there are some extremely dark secrets hidden there. Does Marcia know? Can Claudia find out why people are disappearing?

The setting is wonderful. Details abound so that I truly felt as if I’d been transported back in time to Ancient Gaul, during the time when the Druids still perform human sacrifices, albeit now in secret, in order to maintain their power over the people, defying Rome.

Stone Cold is the eleventh novel in this series, and while I haven’t yet read them all, I can certainly recommend them to any reader who enjoys a good historical mystery.

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