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How was Ursus Killed?


“The Dagger”, a story in The Deadliest Deceptions, features Phoebe, eager to solve the murder of a retired gladiator whose throat was slit in a sleazy waterfront inn. But do gladiators retire? A volunteer gladiator, as opposed to a criminal, slave, or prisoner of war sentenced to the arena, can retire after serving out his contract, usually five years. Some, like Achilles, the main character in my story, chose upon retirement to work as a bodyguard for a famous family as well as to train the new hires in his troop. But then he decides to search for his former bunkmate, Ursus:

You could say I’d been hunting Ursus down for years, starting at his home in Capua and then riding a hired mule from one grubby inn to the next along the Via Appia. And that was just to get to Rome. From the port of Ostia, I sailed to Athens and trekked to Ephesus, Tarsus, and a million other fleapits along the way before catching this glimpse of him in Alexandria. But, you know, all I really wanted was to have a friendly chat with him. Just me and him. After all, wasn’t I his old pal, Achilles? Weren’t we members of the same savage brotherhood, professionals in the arena rather than the scum the Empire was eager to exterminate? And since we were both trained as a retiarius, we were never matched to fight each other.

But the meeting doesn’t go as Achilles planned. And that’s why Professor Jason, who performs autopsies in the medical school, and Phoebe are called in to interpret the scene of Ursus, his throat slit with a dagger. In fact, your opinion might be more useful than theirs. So, click here.


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