I have read a few of Steven Saylor’s books about Gordianus the Finder (my favourite being A Mist of Prophecies), so when I came across this short story, I was very keen to read it.
Gordianus and Eco (a mute boy who Gordianus has taken under his wing) go off to the theatre to watch a play in which Statilius, a friend of Gordianus, is acting. During the play a murder is committed backstage, and the Finder is asked to track down the person responsible. Eco, of course, solves the murder in fairly short order, however, because of his muteness, he struggles to convey what he knows to Gordianus. So, Gordianus, with only a few hints from Eco, must solve the murder alone, which of course, he does.
The backdrop to Death Wears a Mask is rich and vibrant, and the colourful characters that Gordianus meets as he works his way through the crime are just what we have come to expect of the citizens of ancient Rome: greedy, corrupt, morally dubious…
This short story, included in The Mammoth Book of Historical Detectives, is also to be found in The House of the Vestals, a short story collection containing nine mysteries for Gordianus the Finder to solve.
Rating: 3½ out 5