The Rewards of Treachery is the 20th historical Libertus mystery set in ancient Roman Britain by Rosemary Rowe. Released 4th April 2023 by Severn House, it's 240 pages and is available in hardcover and ebook formats. Paperback format will be available from the same publisher in late 4th quarter 2023. It's worth noting that the ebook format has a handy interactive table of contents as well as interactive links and references throughout. I've really become enamored of ebooks with interactive formats lately.
This is a beautifully well researched and lyrically written mystery with depth and verisimilitude. The main protagonist is unequivocally intelligent and analytical. Although series protagonist Libertus fled at the end of the previous book, his adopted son Junio steps into the main role of somewhat reluctant investigator in this installment. There are ties to a much larger plot than a missing brooch and vanished local jeweler, including political unrest and murder.
Although it's not derivative in the slightest, the protagonist and the style remind me a lot of the wonderful Father Cadfael mysteries with glimpses of Barbara Tuchmann. Fans of Ellis' inimitable books will find a lot to enjoy here. As a long (long!) series, the characters live and breathe. The scenery and story are interwoven so skillfully around a framework of actual historical records that it's not at all easy to differentiate where fiction becomes real events. There are small historical details about the daily life and realities of the time period and a great deal of culture in the mix as well.
With so many books extant in the series, it would make a good choice for binge or buddy read. The story is self contained here, so it's not necessary to have read the previous books. The epilogue in this book resolves series MC Libertus' disappearance in previous books. If read out of order, expect spoilers for earlier books in the series.
Four and a half stars. Quite extraordinarily well written, immersive, and high quality mystery.
Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.