Get Out or Die & A Bitter Chill by Jane Finnis

Get Out or Die & A Bitter Chill by Jane Finnis.  These two stories introduce another strong, independent woman in the form of innkeeper Aurelia Marcella.  It’s late in the first century A.D. during the reign of Emperor Domitian and in the northern frontier lands of Brittania near what is now York Aurelia manages an official mansio for her twin brother, an imperial spy who is often away on assignments.  Besides facing the entrepreneurial challenges of running a business and the male prejudices against women in control, Aurelia often finds herself in real danger in this still unsettled land.  In Get Out or Die, she must help squelch a native rebellion being led by a mysterious traitor named the Shadow of Death.  The Shadow of Death has vowed to rid the province of all Romans and has conjoined native warriors, Druid clerics and turncoat legionaries into a murderous force.  A Bitter Chill is a more traditional story of a dysfunctional and violent family beset by greed, lust, and betrayal as the aging patriarch attempts to maintain control.  Unfortunately, it’s also the family that Aurelia’s half-sister, Albia, wishes to join as the wife of the eldest son.

Finnis does a nice job of scene-setting and the plots, especially in the first novel, are quite complex.  What I liked best about the stories was her development of secondary figures besides Aurelia; the servants and slaves, the surrounding natives and Roman settlers.  Finnis is willing to surprise readers by killing off some characters and introducing new people into the mix, which bodes well for future chapters in the series.

The setting of Britannia under Roman rule is fairly common in historical mysteries.  For other alternatives, I recommend any of the following:

Simon Scarrow – The Eagle’s Conquest, 42 AD, more fiction than mystery, but still quite good

Philip Boast – The Third Princess, 64 AD

Lindsey Davis – Silver Pigs, A Body in the Bathhouse, The Jupiter Myth, 70 AD

Ruth Downie – Medicus, 118 AD

Rosemary Rowe – Libertus series, 186 AD


7 Responses to “Get Out or Die & A Bitter Chill by Jane Finnis”

  1. 1 Jane Finnis February 2, 2008 at 12:06 pm

    Hey, I’m so delighted to have my books reviewed on your blog. I just got back from holiday and found it, and thank you very much for including them. I like your blog, and you’ve some interesting links to follow up. I hope I’m not taking too much of a liberty, but I just wanted to let everyone know that the third Aurelia Marcella book, BURIED TOO DEEP, is due out this June. Aurelia and her sister find themselves caught up in a feud between Roman settlers and native British farmers, and on top of that, events from Aurelia’s family past throw unpleasant shadows over the present.

  2. 2 Jane Finnis February 3, 2008 at 7:11 am

    Hey, I’m delighted that you’ve mentioned my Aurelia Marcella books in your blog. Thank you so much. I like the blog, and you’ve some interesting links.

    I hope you’ll forgive a tiny bit of BSP, but I want to let everyone know that the third Aurelia book, BURIED TOO DEEP, will be out this June. Aurelia gets caught up in feuding between Roman settlers and native Britons, and to make matters worse, events from her family’s past cast shadows on its present.

  3. 3 unsetclock February 11, 2008 at 11:22 am

    Thanks for reading the blog. I really do like the books and look forward to the third in the series in June.

  1. 1 Terra Incognita « The unset alarm clock Trackback on April 9, 2008 at 10:21 am
  2. 2 Buried Too Deep « The unset alarm clock Trackback on May 2, 2008 at 9:53 am
  3. 3 Nox Dormienda « The unset alarm clock Trackback on September 19, 2008 at 12:24 pm
  4. 4 Hangman’s Corner « The unset alarm clock Trackback on July 23, 2010 at 9:53 pm

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