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1001 Stories Collection

The Thieves of Ostia

1001 The Thieves Of Ostia
Added on 16th August 2020

Author Caroline Lawrence
First published 2001
Publisher Orion Publishing, London

A mystery story set in ancient Rome, full of historical detail, drama and suspense.


The Thieves of Ostia is the first book in the Roman Mysteries series. A young Roman girl Flavia Gemina sets out to solve the mystery of who is killing the city's watchdogs, helped by her three friends, Jonathan (son of Jewish doctor), Nubia (an African slave girl) and Lupus (a mute beggar boy). Their investigations take them into unexpected and sometimes dangerous situations but Flavia Gemina is unstoppable once she's on the trail to solving a mystery.

Why we chose it

The books are full of very accurate historical detail of everyday life in Rome during the rule of the Emperor Titus, including historical events and people such as Flavia Gemina's meeting with Pliny the Elder during the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in the second book of the series. The stories are also full of drama and suspense, with plenty of cliff hangers and plot twists.

Where it came from

Rosemary Sutcliffe's 1954 children's book, The Eagle of the Ninth, and its sequels used Roman Britain as a setting for one of the classics of children's historical fiction. Lawrence studied Classics at University and later taught French, Latin and Greek in schools. She says that her idea for the Roman Mysteries series was to create a 'Nancy Drew in Ancient Rome'.

Where it went next

The BBC adapted the stories for television in two series that were broadcast in 2007 and and 2008. Lawrence also wrote a number of spin off books including The Roman Mysteries Quiz Books and From Ostia to Alexandria with Flavia Gemina: Travels with Flavia Gemina.

Associated stories

There are 17 stories in The Roman Mysteries series published between 2001-2007. The other books in the series are: The Secrets of Vesuvius, The Pirates of Pompeii, The Assassins of Rome, The Twelve Tasks of Flavia Gemina, The Enemies of Jupiter, The Gladiators from Capua, The Colossus of Rhodes, The Fugitive from Corinth, The Sirens of Surrentum, The Charioteer of Delphi, The Slave-girl from Jerusalem, The Beggar of Volubilis, The Scribes from Alexandria, The Prophet from Ephesus, The Man from Pomegranate Street.

Added on 16th August 2020

Author Caroline Lawrence
First published 2001
Publisher Orion Publishing, London