Flavia Gemina is brilliant at finding things, so it's natural for her to solve mysteries. The daughter of a ship's captain living in Ostia, the port of Rome, in AD 79, she acquires a gang of three friends who help her. There is Jonathan, the Jewish boy (and secretly a Christian); Nubia, the African slave girl; and Lupus, a mute beggar boy. Together they work out who severed the heads of the watchdogs that guard people's homes, and why he did it. Caroline Lawrence is a terrific storyteller and a delightfully readable and accessible writer with characters that children will relate to. Her picture of daily life in Ancient Rome is wonderfully vivid. But The Thieves of Ostia is first and foremost a whodunnit, with lots of twist and cliffhangers—and a mystery for the reader to solve.