Monday, January 3, 2011

This eBook Is Too Darned Cheap: Medicus Shows Why Amazon's Kindle Store Is The Best eBookseller

By Tom Dulaney, Editor-in-Chief

Casual readers who may have time for, perhaps, a dozen books a year may be satisfied with the fare they find in the Nook's Barnes & Noble Store, or on Google eBooks, or in Apple's iStore. All of those ebooksellers tend to have the top of the bestseller lists up-front and ready to buy.

But “hard core” readers, bargain hunters and readers looking for something new and different are better served by the Amazon Kindle Store.  An example of why appears as a free ebook today in the Kindle Store—Medicus, by Ruth Downie.

This treat of a mystery story, set in the year 117 A.D. in England, is free in the Kindle Store.   It costs $9.99 in the Google eBook store and as a Barnes & Noble Nook Book. It is not available at any price in Apple's iStore. As a Nook Book, Medicus shows up on the B&N site when browsing via computer, but is a no-show when using the Nook app on the iPad.

The book is undoubtedly free now to entice readers to purchase the following three titles in the series.  The latest of the batch, Caveat Emptor, was released on December 21.

In Medicus, we meet Gaius Petrius Ruso, a “medicus” or military doctor attached to the 20th Roman Legion stationed in the port town of Deva in Britain.  Author Ruth Downie's characters speak modern English, preserving us from attempts to “sound like” Romans in the first century.

The plot finds Ruso finding, then following, the trail of a serial killer who has been murdering slave girls. While the mystery fascinates, even more intriguing is its time and setting. Readers get a peek at what life might very well have been like in at the far reaches of the Roman Empire in Deva (now Chester), early in the 2nd Century AD.

Ruso often stops by shrines to Aesculapius, the Roman god of the healing arts, to pay an offering and pray for a patient's well being. He side-steps slaves on pooper scooper duty in the streets, interviews the madam in a restaurant cum bordello, and copes with a trying roommate, jealous colleagues, and public bath schedules always at odds with his own.

Readers are in the hands of an accomplished author in Ruth Downie and will quickly find themselves engrossed in the mystery, in the setting and the century of the tale.   We easily relate to Ruso's struggle to solve the murder in spite of Roman bureaucracy and the intransigence of the occupied nation's inhabitants.

A 5-Star read in my opinion.--TD

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