“Kelli Stanley can etch a landscape as vividly as she gives voice to Roman noir. In THE CURSE-MAKER, the spa at Aquae Sulis—modern Bath—frames a drama driven by superstition, by longing, by greed, and by the ease with which people get suckered and the penalties ultimately paid.
It’s an exciting successor to NOX DORMIENDA, where readers first met Arcturus the medicus and entered the frontier world of First Century Roman Britain.”
Barbara Peters, The Poisoned Pen
The sequel to the award-winning NOX DORMIENDA …
and the relaunch of Roman noir.
“Stanley’s follow-up to NOX DORMIENDA returns to ancient Roman times with another terrific noir. The flavor and setting shine, and Stanley has the knack for creating an atmosphere that feels as if she has transcribed actual historical events. Like the best fantasy and historical mysteries, this novel allows a look into our past and gives the reader a keen understanding of life at that time. Stanley is definitely one to watch.”
Jeff Ayres, RT Book Reviews (4 stars)
“A delightful and satisfying complex murder mystery set in Roman-occupied Bath long before it cleaned up itself up enough to suit the likes of Jane Austen and Henry Fielding.”
John McFarland, Shelf Awareness (read the rest of the review here)
“THE CURSE-MAKER is second in this series (following NOX DORMIENDA), but can easily be read alone. Stanley’s attention to detail and careful research make each of her mysteries rich and entertaining reads.”
Becky LeJeune, the BookBitch
“Besides writing an engrossing mystery, in which the first murder leads to a typically Roman orgy of revenge, Stanley serves up fascinating and never heavy-handed information on Roman life. For fans of Steven Saylor’s Roma Sub Rosa series.”
Booklist (starred review)
“The second Ancient Britannia mystery (see NOX DORMIENDA) is a superb whodunit that provides readers with insight into the use of curses, apparently a thriving business of the times.”
Harriet Klausner, The Mystery Gazette (read the rest of the review here).
“A murder interrupts the holiday of Arcturus, the Roman governor’s doctor and sometime sleuth, in Stanley’s well-plotted second novel set in Britain during the reign of Domitian (after 2008’s NOX DORMIENDA, winner of the Bruce Alexander Award for Best Historical Mystery). When the strangled body of Rufus Bibax, a scribe who made his living writing curses, surfaces in a reservoir in Aquae Sulis (today’s Bath), his mouth is stuffed with a piece of lead on which is inscribed Ultor (“The Avenger”). The physician learns of earlier mysterious deaths, which may be connected with the legend of a nearby mine. More murders, possibly by a copycat, follow. The author, as she explains in a note, has imaginatively reconstructed how curses might have been used in Roman society. Some may find the language too modern sounding (“Logically, she was right-but goddamn it, I wasn’t logical”), but all will wish this historical series a long life.”
“This worthy successor to NOX DORMIENDA weaves together many strands, and the resulting pattern is sometimes surprising. If readers enjoyed Stanley’s first Roman noir, they won’t want to miss this. It is sure to appeal also to fans of Lindsey Davis, Ruth Downie, and other authors of Roman mysteries.”
“Pick up a copy of THE CURSE-MAKER for an engrossing mystery with an incredible cast of characters and vivid settings in and around Aquae Sulis.”
Mike Philman, TracyReaderDad (read the rest of the review here)
“The plot is a well balanced mix of Arcturus and Gwyna’s investigation as well as their private life. The dialogue feels natural, almost poetic, and the more (ahem) “grown up” scenes will make you wish there is someone next to you in bed while you’re reading.”
Patrick Thornton, Reading Under the Covers (read the rest of the review here)
“The romantic relationship between Gwyna and Arcturus intertwines with the unraveling of the mystery and provides depth to their characters. The Roman politics and corruption revealed in the mystery are compellingly developed and, like many things Roman, echo modern life while retaining their uniquely Latin flavor. Stanley skillfully creates a wide cast of characters—some we like, others are delightfully despicable. I certainly kept turning the pages.”
Judith Starkston (read the rest of the review here)
“Kelli Stanley shows herself, once again, to be the most remarkable writer of historical noir going. THE CURSE-MAKER has an absorbing mystery, a compelling protagonist, and a unique setting, and they are all buoyed up by Stanley’s exhaustive research that informs and strengthens the story without ever bogging it down. This is how historical mystery should be done.”
David Liss, author of The Whiskey Rebels and The Devil’s Company
“Kelli Stanley writes with a unique voice and tone, creating an-all absorbing historical mystery. Her love for and knowledge of her subjects project a visual magic, and you are there. Ms. Stanley has gone where few others ever go, and with excellence.”
Heather Graham, NY Times Bestselling Author
“I loved THE CURSE-MAKER – a compelling, engrossing tale from Kelli Stanley who’s carved out her own unique genre of Roman Noir. Don’t miss this one.”
Cara Black, bestselling author of the Aimée Leduc Investigations and Murder in Passy
“No one blends authentic period detail with hardboiled crime like Kelli Stanley. This is Sam Spade in a toga!”
Rhys Bowen, Agatha and Anthony-winning author of the Molly Murphy and Royal Spyness series.
Praise for the Arcturus Series
“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
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.
“… 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.”
Gayle Lynds, NY Times Bestselling Author