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Notebooks of Pliny the Younger Books In Order

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Publication Order of Pliny the Younger Books

All Roads Lead to Murder (2002)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Blood of Caesar (2008)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Corpus Conundrum (2011)Description / Buy at Amazon
Death in the Ashes (2013)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Eyes of Aurora (2014)Description / Buy at Amazon
Fortune's Fool (2017)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Gods Help Those (2018)Description / Buy at Amazon
Hiding from the Past (2020)Description / Buy at Amazon

Notebooks of Pliny the Younger is a series of historical mystery novels written by Albert A. Bell Jr. The books follow the exploits of Pliny the younger and his friend Tacitus, two real-life historical figures who solve mysteries in ancient Rome.

+The Story
Pliny the Younger was a Roman author and administrator who was born into an aristocratic family and eventually adopted by Pliny the Elder, his uncle who cared for and educated him.

An intelligent fellow who began practicing law at the age of 18, immediately eliciting the attention and interest of the civil-law courts of his time, Pliny the younger’s name survived the ravages of time because of the hundreds of letters he wrote, many of which have provided insightful glimpses into important historical events such as the destruction of Pompeii.

Cornelius Tacitus lived in the same era as Pliny; a senator, and historian of the Roman Empire, Tacitus wrote extensively about the Emperors Tiberius and Nero. Modern scholars believe him to be one of the greatest historians to ever come out of Rome.

Pliny and Tacitus are not necessarily popular figures amongst mainstream audiences but that did not stop Albert A. Bell Jr. from making them the primary protagonists of his historical fiction novels.

‘All Roads Lead to Murder’, the first novel in the Notebooks of Pliny the Younger series, takes readers to the Roman Empire in 81AD. Pliny, Tacitus and the rest of their friends are part of a band of travelers journeying to Rome when they come across a man whose heart has been cut out.

With Pliny and Tacitus determining that the victim’s passing was the result of murder, and with no Roman magistrates in the vicinity, they decide to investigate the situation and find the killer.

The result is a long and complicated ordeal involving gamblers, Christians and priests.

‘All Roads Lead to Murder’ immediately sets Pliny and Tacitus apart as particularly effective detectives. Pliny has a knack for seeing things that most people miss. And his innate curiosity drives him to ask questions where others might not, and to suspect every answer that comes his way.

And wherever Pliny falls short, whenever his intelligence fails him, Tacitus is always just around the corner, ready to pick up the slack and fill in the gaps.

Each new installment in the Notebooks of Pliny the Younger series pits Pliny and Tacitus against an engaging case of murder and mystery. For the most part, Pliny stumbles upon these mysteries rather than actively seeking them out. On a few occasions, people will seek Pliny out because of his reputation as a keen detective.

And once Pliny sets his sights on a mystery, he won’t stop exploring it until he finds answers. The character isn’t necessarily the wisest player on the board, though. In fact, Pliny is a little lacking in knowledge and experience as far as the ways of the world are concerned.

But he compensates for his ignorance by bringing forth a hungry skepticism that drives him to question everything from religion to human nature. For the most part, though, Pliny is designed to be the Sherlock Holmes of his world, with Tacitus playing the part of Watson.

Many historical enthusiasts have complained that they do not like the way Tacitus follows Pliny around like a dog, so impressed by his brilliance. The author does what he can to give Tacitus more of a significant role as the series progresses.

Because Albert A. Bell Jr. is a historian, he goes to great lengths to paint an accurate picture of the ancient Roman Empire. The author also works hard to not turn his novels into lectures.

Albert wants his readers to be entertained above all else. But he takes every opportunity he gets to provide fascinating details about life in the Ancient Roman Empire. This tends to repel some of his readers who find the depictions of slavery, misogyny and other off-putting aspects of the Roman Empire offensive.

There are critics who think his novels take too long to get going. Albert loves to meander. History enthusiasts and even lovers of the Latin language appreciate the approach but casual readers do not care for it.

+The Author
Albert is a history professor that teaches at Hope College. He published an article in 1972 that set him on the path to publishing success. Albert has since produced numerous articles, fiction, and nonfiction books.

The author began reading Pliny during his college days. Even then, Albert thought that Pliny’s analytical outlook on life would make him a great detective. Because the author teaches and writes a lot about Ancient Rome, his work on the Notebooks of Pliny the Younger does not require much research.

Albert bases his characterization of his heroes on the contents of the letters Pliny and Tacitus exchanged. Interestingly enough, when the author wrote the first Pliny the Younger novel, he had no intention of producing a series.

His publisher planted the idea in his head.

+All Roads Lead to Murder
Pliny the Younger and Tacitus were part of a caravan taking them from Antioch back to Rome. They made a stop in Smyrna and came across a horrific murder. The man was found dead at the same inn the pair was staying.

With no other authority in the vicinity to address the injustice, Pliny and Tacitus make it their business to find the murderer.

They are aided along the way by two New Testament figures, namely: Luke the Physician and Timothy the Helper.

+The Blood of Caesar
Pliny the Younger and Cornelius Tacitus are great detectives. So when a dead workman is discovered during the dinner at the Emperor Domitian’s palace, they are called upon to act.

The emperor is suspiciously obsessed with the humble fellow’s death. But he isn’t as interested in the dead man’s fate as he is in its connection to Augustus Caesar. The ruler of Rome has a copy of a memoir of Nero’s mother that he suspects might be incomplete.

But what does that have to do with Tacitus’ father in law?

Book Series In Order » Characters » Notebooks of Pliny the Younger

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