I can always rely on Caroline Lawrence to write an entertaining story. She has a new Roman book out in early February – The Sewer Demon – part of her new spin-off series The Roman Mystery Scrolls. It’s nice to return to the Roman settings and to the mystery solving.
This one is about poo. There are some pretty graphic descriptions of Roman toilets and sponge sticks. And poo. For good measure there is a large illustration at the beginning of the book, which I’m fairly sure shows five grown men on the toilet, some of them dark in the face. Constipation, perhaps?
We met young Threptus in a short story the year before last (I think it was), and he’s friends with Lupus. He’s another beggar boy, and he admires Lupus a lot and wants to be like him. So he solves mysteries. His first one gets him a job and a home with a grown-up, and he should be safer than he was.
But Threptus ends up in trouble almost immediately, when he runs into the same old bullies. It’s as he tries to escape them that he encounters the men on the toilet, and you don’t really want to know where Threptus is just then.
We also meet Aphrodite the chicken, and there is a wealthy widow with a problem. And Floridius, Threptus’ grown-up, lets go of something important in the wrong place. (You can guess where.)
Floridius isn’t terribly good at much, but Threptus is. He notices things and he remembers them, and he puts them to sensible use. He will do Lupus proud. There is romance developing for another old Roman friend, as well.
And down in the sewer; it could be mud, or a log, or ‘something worse.’ You just never know what you’ll find there. Or perhaps you do…
The Sewer Demon is a shorter story than the Roman Mysteries, and will make perfect reading for slightly younger children, while not stopping us elderly fans from having fun.