Book VI

Tabula Rasa

“With a finely wrought plot, a densely woven cast of characters and plenty of action, this is a book to savour to the last sentence.” - MC Scott, author of the Rome and Boudica series.

“…immediately transports the reader to another time and place.”  – Publishers Weekly

Tabula Rasa coverRuso and his wife Tilla are back in the borderlands of Britannia, this time helping to tend the builders of Hadrian’s Great Wall.

Having been forced to move off their land, the Britons are distinctly on edge and are still smarting from the failure of a recent rebellion that claimed many lives.Then Ruso’s recently arrived clerk, Candidus, goes missing. A native boy thinks he sees a body being hidden inside the wall’s half-finished stonework, and a worrying rumor begins to spread. (Read more here…)

TABULA RASA is now available in print, ebook and audio (narrated by Simon Vance) in North America. UK publication is scheduled for October 2014.


Book V

Semper Fidelis

“This latest installment in the best-selling series will delight readers of history, mystery, and popular fiction.” – Library Journal

“I had trouble putting it down at night… Highly recommended.” - Historical Novel Society

Ruso, back wiCover of US edition of Semper Fidelisth the 20th Legion, is doing his best to avoid all the hullaballoo surrounding the visit of the Emperor Hadrian and his wife, the unimpressed Empress Sabina.  Ruso slips away to the underused fortress of Eboracum (modern York), only to find that things are going seriously wrong there for the Legion’s British recruits. It’s not long before he and Tilla realise they’ve picked a dangerous place to hide. (Read more here…)

SEMPER FIDELIS is now available in print and ebook, and in audio narrated by Simon Vance in the US and Canada.


Book IV

Caveat Emptor (USA & Canada)

Ruso and the River of Darkness (UK)

“BBC’s Masterpiece should take a long look at this series. It’s a winner.” (Kirkus Reviews)

“A great read.” (Manda Scott, author of the ‘Boudica’ series and ‘Rome – the Emperor’s Spy’)

Cover of Caveat Emptor

Cover of Ruso and the River of Darkness

Superb… Downie excels in bringing the ancient world to life.” (Publishers’ Weekly, starred review).

A novel featuring death, taxes and angry barbarians. Ruso brings Tilla back to Britain, but the medical job he was promised doesn’t materialise. Instead, he is charged with hunting down a missing tax collector – and the large sum of money that disappeared with him. (read more here…)


Book III:

Persona non Grata (USA & Canada)

Ruso and the Root of all Evils (UK, Australia)

Cover of Persona Non GrataCover of Ruso and the Root of All Evils

“Enormous fun: another lively winner from a newly established mistress of the genre.” (Kirkus, starred review.)

… in which Ruso takes Tilla home to southern Gaul, only to find that his brother in law has disappeared and his family is on the brink of bankruptcy… (read more here)


Book II:

Ruso and the Demented Doctor (UK)

Terra Incognita (USA)

‘The second in Downie’s delightful series… hardback – but it’s so good it’s worth the extra cost.’ (Sue Baker’s personal choice, Publishing News.)

‘This book… is even better than the first… This is a terrific series that historical mystery fans shouldn’t miss.’ (Margaret Cannon,Toronto Globe and Mail)

‘Ruso rocks. Let’s hear it for those Romans.’ (Kirkus, starred review)

Ruso and the Demented Doctor cover (Penguin)Terra Incognita cover, links to Bloomsbury websitePaperback of Ruso and the Demented Doctor

After unravelling the mysterious murders in Deva, Ruso’s hoping to settle into a quiet life and concentrate on medicine. Unfortunately he’s been persuaded to travel to the northern borders of Roman Britannia, where Tilla has old scores to settle… (read more here)


Book I:

Ruso (Medicus) and the Disappearing Dancing Girls (UK)

Medicus (USA)

‘…the beginning of an addictively escapist series.’ (The Times)

‘Ruso is a wonderful character, fuelled by a dyspeptic machismo and sullen charm reminiscent of Harrison Ford in his heyday. A charming novel.’ (Kirkus, starred review)

ruso-penguin-paperback-cover.jpgMedicus and the Disappearing Dancing Girls first coverMedicus cover published by Bloomsbury USA

Roman Army medic Gaius Petreius Ruso has come to Britannia to make a fresh start. Within days he finds himself landed with a female corpse that nobody else wants to deal with, and a local slave girl who won’t talk to him… (read more here)

So why the different editions?

The short answer is, ‘different publishers in the UK and USA’ – and here’s the result.

Illustrations of all book covers together

(Thanks to Hasan Niyazi over at Three Pipe Problem, who put both sets of titles together in this very handy graphic.)

The long answer, during which you may feel inclined to doze, begins, ‘Different publishers have different editors…’ You may drift back into consciousness occasionally to hear phrases like, ‘…felt the other one’s title wouldn’t work for their readers…’ and ‘different design departments’. You may, however, find yourself fully awake after the phrase, ‘suggested that men might not pick up a book with a woman’s name on the cover.’

This last came as a surprise to me, but a very unscientific survey of opinion in a few readers’ groups suggests that it might be true. In the UK, at least. (Incidentally, the RS Downie who writes real medical textbooks is not me. Absolutely none of the medical advice in the Ruso books should be followed. Would you trust a 1900-year-old man who prescribes mouse droppings?)

A extra complication was added when the UK edition of the first book changed from ‘Medicus and the Disappearing Dancing Girls’ to ‘Ruso and the…’ and gained a new cover between hardback and paperback.

None of this would matter except that the reach of Internet bookselling means all the versions can appear at once – especially on a site like Amazon where dealers have imports to offer – and it’s not always clear that some are the same book. We’ve tried to have an explanatory note put on each page, but it’s not ideal. There doesn’t seem to be a magic solution. To anyone who’s been inadvertently confused by this, I apologise.