The Bull Slayer by Bruce MacBain

The Bull Slayer by Bruce MacBain
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Genre: Action/Adventure, Historical, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (261 pgs)
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Peppermint

A turbulent frontier province, rotten with corruption and seething with hatred of Rome—a barbarian god whose devotees may include a murderer —a clever and unscrupulous faith healer who knows everyone’s secrets—a boy who struggles toward manhood though stricken with the Sacred Disease: these are the elements in a mystery that Pliny, newly appointed governor of Bithynia, confronts when a high Roman official is found murdered on a desolate hillside, miles from the capital. But as Pliny pursues one baffling lead after another, he is being betrayed where he least expects it: his beautiful wife, neglected and lonely in an alien city, falls desperately in love with a handsome young provincial—an affair which threatens to bring not only pain but ruin to Pliny’s career. All these threads come together in a surprising and tragic finale.

The Bull Slayer proved to be a riveting tale full of suspense and twists and turns around every corner. Pliny’s story, while a bit slow to start, proved to be intriguing with his complex story line. This book has a bit of everything love, tragedy, betrayal, and mystery.

The complexity of this story is something that only history mixed with fiction can provide. It is evident the author is passionate about this time period as well as the story and characters. One thing that I was thankful for was that while in many ways the author stayed true to the time period, they made the language easy to follow. Mr. MacBain even provides definitions for some of the terminology to assist the reader, though it was not necessary because I could follow along easily throughout the story.

One character that truly intrigued me was Pliny’s wife, Calpurnia. In some ways I felt bad for her since her husband frequently left her alone due to his need to travel for business. On the other hand I cannot help but feel that, while she may be educated, she is very naive in many other aspects of life, including love. She easily loses herself when it comes to the opposite sex; I am not sure if this is because of her inexperience or the time period, but it created an interesting story.

I have always enjoyed high suspense historical stories and The Bull Slayer delivered everything I expected plus some.

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