In Defense of Sextus Roscius of Ameria (aka "Pro Roscio Amerino") by Marcus Cicero, aka "Cicero", written about 80 BC, may just be one of my favourite private eye novels.
Yep, it's a speech, not a novel, but young Cicero's first major defense speech reads like a short mystery novel. And sure, theoretically it's nonfiction, but if you know Cicero you know he didn't shy from (ahem) adjusting the facts to suit his case. Guessing where he prevaricates is one of the pleasures of rereading this brilliant speech.
Another is Cicero's sense of the dramatic-when he announces who the real murderer is, I can practically hear the gasps in the courtroom.
Who's the P.I.? Why, Cicero himself, paid by rich clients to investigate a murder and then defend an accused man no one else wants to touch. Michael Grant's English translation is the best.
Respectfully submitted by Vince Emery.
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