“In NOX DORMIENDA, Kelli Stanley has created a startling new genre of mystery: the Roman noir. Written in a fresh and uncompromising voice, here is a novel as evocative of ancient times as it is masterful in crafting a mystery as entangled and ingenious as any modern story.
I look forward to vanishing again into the world she has created. Don’t miss your chance to do the same.”
James Rollins, #1 NY Times Bestseller
The beginning of Roman noir …
… takes the reader on a colorful tour of this singular culture high and low, from jails and brothels to the corridors of power. First-timer Stanley is sure-footed and enthusiastic about history … and crafts a satisfyingly intricate puzzle …
… the author, with her background in classics and archaeology, has a good sense of time and place. The staccato movement of the narrative is very reminiscent of the hard-boiled detective genre she is trying to reinvent as “Roman noir” …
The Roman conquest of Britain continues to interest writers, and Stanley has come up with a different angle, focusing on Arcturus, a half-British, half-Roman doctor who is the physician of Agricola, the provincial governor. A Syrian spy, widely believed to be carrying a message terminating Agricola’s tenure, is found dead. But where is the message? And why was he carrying all this money?
There’s lots of action, with threads involving Arcturus’ servant, the spy’s reluctant fiancee, a badly run brothel and the secret lives of those who follow the “old” (Druidic) religion. There’s also plenty of blood, cruelty and political machination in this well-done story that will keep the reader guessing for many chapters.
Roberta Alexander, Contra Costa Times/San Jose Mercury News
Phillip Marlowe and John Rebus have a new cousin … who speaks Latin.
John Leech, Mystery News (3 quills)
Arcturus is a unique protagonist; a private eye in a toga, wisecracking monologues to boot. This era, with its smells, sounds and the language, comes alive in the noir world of NOX DORMIENDA. I look forward to the next in the series. Highly recommended.
Tess Allegra, Historical Novels Review
How do you say wondrous in Latin? I wish I knew so I could pay the proper homage to Kelli Stanley’s first in what I hope will be a long series. From the partridge eggs for breakfast to the temples with marble columns, Stanley plunges the reader into the world of Roman noir with a novel set in first century AD Londinium. … Stanley has deftly crafted an excellent historical whodunit, filled with fascinating secondary characters and enough intrigue to keep you turning page after page until the satisfying conclusion. Fans of this style of mystery will be anxiously awaiting Arcturus’ next adventure.
Lisa Respers France, BookLoons (see site for full review)
This mystery novel is full of well developed characters and has an intriguing plot. The setting of Roman Britain is so masterfully crafted that it is obvious the author has immersed herself in it. You can feel the mud and the dreary rain and see the gray mist that covers the Londinium of the time. I loved the inclusion of the excellent glossary in the back which included every Latin and Celtic word used in the book. In her author’s note, Ms. Stanley explains that she is a fan of Noir films and the classic private eye stories of Raymond Chandler. That is certainly apparent in this engrossing mystery. Some of the snappy language was hilarious and the whole time I was reading it I kept seeing Humphrey Bogart in his overcoat (make that a toga) and hearing Dick Tracy in my ear. It was a vivid, exciting, hard-boiled mystery with a bit of fun thrown in!
Carey Anderson, BlogCritics, Tome Traveller’s Weblog
Kelli Stanley’s first novel is a noir-flavored murder mystery set in Roman-occupied Britain in 83 A.D. Cast in the role of the hard-boiled detective is Arcturus, the personal physician of Agricola, the Roman governor of Britannia. The governor is an actual historical figure, one of several popping up in the course of the novel. Arcturus, on the other hand, is a fictitious creation, a doctor whose forensic skills involve him in affairs beyond his examining room. To the author’s credit, historical and fictional characters alike come alive, with character development and the plot receiving equal attention.
Po Wong, Book Ideas ( four stars–for complete review, visit the website)
What sets this book a step above many others is that it keeps the reader guessing and is fast paced enough to never incite boredom. Ms. Stanley must have done a great deal of research in order to make this book so believable and realistic, at least to my untrained and non-historic savvy eye. Written in the first person, readers will follow Arcturus, as he journeys into some unsavoury and scary places in his quest.
Don’t miss out on this one! It promises to be a hit and come as a surprise to you as well as it did to me.
Angie, Love Romances and More
Never heard of Roman Noir? Well you have now. Kelli Stanley, academic scholar and admitted noir fan, bursts onto the scene this summer with the first installment of her historical noir series … Stanley combines classic noir and mystery elements with expansive research into first century Roman Britain. Her efforts pay off. It’s a combination that really works quite well.
Becky Lejeune, Bookbitch, No More Grumpy Bookseller
…I felt like I had bought a ticket to see Gladiator but made a wrong turn inside the cineplex and stumbled into Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction.
But as the novel progressed and I got to know the interesting cast of characters, especially the quirky half-Roman, half-Britain medicus who could be gently caressing a puppy one minute and groping in the abdomen of a nearly eviscerated legionary the next, I succumbed to this author’s efforts to conjure up a unique view of ancient Rome and began to enjoy the bumpy ride as Stanley’s protagonist tugged me through Londonium’s back streets, down into a mithraeum, up the back stairs of a seedy brothel, then into the provincial governor’s palace where a weary Agricola, one of Domitian’s most successful and honored generals, brooded over rumors of his pending dismissal as he realized his old soldier’s boots may not be the best footwear to navigate the tightrope of imperial politics.
I think what I enjoyed most was becoming an invisible member of the raucous household of Julius Alpinus Classicianus Favonianus (that’s Arcturus to you natives or Ardur to any rheumy-eyed Trinovantean females) whose members so eagerly attempted to assist the Dominus in his investigations …
Mary Harrsch, Roman Times
If Raymond Chandler and Lindsey Davis collaborated on a book, this would be it …. The mystery is well-paced and kept me guessing right up to the end. Kelli Stanley brings Roman London to life with her vivid descriptions of life at the time, and I enjoyed the liberal peppering of Latin phrases throughout. Normally, I cringe when I see a glossary at the back of a novel, but in this case it provided a fun glimpse into Roman legal terms as well as the everyday vernacular of the folks on the street.
Arcturus is witty and stubborn to a fault, and he makes a likable, realistically flawed protagonist. I hope this first book in Kelli’s projected series is a great success, because I certainly want to hear more from Arcturus!
Lynn Reynolds (Dorothy-L; Library Thing) (for the rest of the review,
cick here to go to Amazon).
Stanley has given us a rich tapestry of a world with depth of color and detail that makes the Londinium of 83 A.D. come alive. Each character has a backstory that comes out naturally in the narrative. The plotting is tight and with enough twists and turns to keep a reader interested. As a classicist, Stanley has used her knowledge of historical societies and culture to help pull the reader in and keep them in this ancient world of political power plays. There’s also a glossary of Latin words and phrases used in the book as well as a list of references. I often pick up bits of historical information, and this one lets me peek into the windows to see how the people of this time lived. Readers of noir mysteries and of historical mysteries should find much to like in this, the first book of the Arcturus mysteries. Maledictus, the second book in the series is in the works, and I for one look forward to more adventures with Arcturus.
Gayle Surrette, Gumshoe Review (for the entire review and an interview with Kelli, visit the Gumshoe Review website)
… fans of ancient historical mysteries will enjoy this entertaining Britannia Noir as Arcturus escorts the audience to places not normally found in Roman Empire whodunits … The story line is fast-paced from the moment the soldiers take the lead character to the crime scene and never slows down … NOX DORMIENDA is an enjoyable first century amateur sleuth.
Harriet Klausner, Genre-Go-Round; Mystery Gazette
“… chock full of chills, thrills, and breath-taking adventure. Fueled by fascinating characters and rich details from Londinium in 83 A.D., this unforgettable tale brings the past eerily alive while leaving you hungering for the next book in what surely will be an exciting series. Stanley is a terrific writer.”
NOX DORMIENDA (A LONG NIGHT FOR SLEEPING) nigh cost me a night’s sleep! A Roman noir … and with a depth of scholarship that should be off-putting but works beautifully. The language is a sheer treasure.
From classical to sheer class and for a book that is so meticulously researched, it has a wild and wondrous sense of humour. What a series this is going to be! Imagine Ellis Peters re-written by Elmore Leonard and you’ll have some notion of this gem of a novel—and it moves like a gladiator on speed.
Kelli Stanley skillfully introduces readers to Roman Britain noir in NOX DORMIENDA. A credible mystery, a touching love story, sufficient suspense to keep the reader invested and eager to discern the guilty—and to discover whether or not the innocent will be spared from paying—all steeped in authenticity and a love for history that bodes well for the successful launch of a splendid, informative and entertaining series. Praeclarus nixus!