Perseverance Press 

Secrets Buried in the Ruins

“Engaging characters…. Bell continues to make ancient Rome live and breathe.”
Publishers Weekly

A few years after the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius, one of the greatest natural disasters in recorded history, Pliny the Younger is asked by his friend Aurelia to help her husband Calpurnius, who has been accused of murder in Naples. Among thousands of fatalities in A.D. 79, the natural historian/fleet commander Pliny the Elder had died while rescuing survivors. His nephew and adopted son, eighteen-year-old Pliny the Younger, described the calamity in letters, leaving to history the only surviving eyewitness account. At first he was not believed, but today, geologists call this kind of mushroom-shaped ash cloud a “Plinean Eruption.”

Pliny learned principles of scientific and forensic investigation from his uncle, which he’d used in three earlier “Cases from the Notebooks of Pliny the Younger.” With the help of his wisecracking sidekick Tacitus, he now must investigate cunning plots by some descendants of Augustus, which include murders and babies switched at birth. One fortunate circumstance in Pliny’s detective activities is that the hardened ash crust makes good impressions of hand- and foot-prints. But never before had he been called upon to swallow his fears and ghastly memories and to face a deadly challenge in the ruins of a buried villa.

Best-selling author Steven Saylor said of Bell’s third book, The Corpus Conundrum: “Inspired… clear and crisp… use of historical sources is ingenious.” And the second book in the series, The Blood of Caesar, received a starred review from Library Journal, which picked it as one of the five Best Mysteries of 2008. As in the earlier books, a glossary of Roman terms is included, and for the first time, a list of historic and fictional characters.

Albert A. Bell, Jr. is a college history professor and novelist living in Michigan. In addition to his Roman series, Bell has written contemporary mysteries, middle-grade novels, and nonfiction. He maintains a website devoted to Pliny the Younger (, as well as his author website.

Death in the Ashes
A Fourth Case from the Notebooks of Pliny the Younger
Albert A. Bell, Jr.
ISBN 978-1-56474-532-3
270 pages, trade paperback original, $15.95

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