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Detectives in Togas

post written by Esther Filbrun

Detectives in Togas, by Henry WinterfeldTitle: Detectives in Togas
Author: Henry Winterfeld
Major Themes: 1st century, Ancient Rome, Historical Fiction, Children’s Mystery
Synopsis: When the Xanthos school is broken into, and the teacher almost killed, the students must act quickly to find and expose the culprit—before Rufus is locked behind bars forever.

When Mom first read Detectives in Togas to me, we had borrowed it from the library. And as soon as we had finished it, I wished we owned a copy ourselves. Sadly, I had to wait about five years until that day came. But now, we do own a copy and that makes me happy!

In Detectives in Togas, we meet a school. Xantippus, the teacher, is both stern and wise—and his pupils know it. No one is allowed to be caught breaking the rules—if they do, they will face severe punishment. The Xanthos school had only seven students, each from wealthy Roman families. When Caius—the class trouble-maker—makes Rufus, one of the other students mad, he doesn’t know what he’s getting himself into. In revenge, Rufus writes “Caius is a Dumbbell” on his slate, and hangs it in a place the whole class can see. When Xantippus finds out what has happened, he expels Rufus from the school.

The next morning, when the boys get to school, Xantippus is not there. Then, they realize the writing tablet with “Caius is a Dumbbell” is gone—and when they walk into Xantippus’s private rooms, they realize someone had been there. Nothing was in its place—even the sheets on the bed were ripped. Then, a groan sounded from the wardrobe, and soon they found Xantippus—tied and gagged. Someone had tried to murder their teacher—but who? And why would they want the wax tablet with “Caius is a Dumbbell” on it?

Henry Winterfeld is an amazing author. Through this hilarious mystery, we not only get a solid storyline and true-to life characters, but we also get a wonderful glimpse into the Ancient Roman’s day-to-day lives. My brothers and I both love this book, and I think your family will, too. It’s a fun way to learn history, and the story alone makes the book well worth your time reading.

WARNING: Some parts of the story may be intense for younger listeners. There is also lying in places.

Age Levels:

Read Aloud—Ages 8 – 12, 10 – 13
Reading Independently—Ages  7 – 9, 8 – 12

Links to buy Detectives in Togas:


Paperback | Hardcover


Keywords: Ancient Rome

  1. March 1, 2016

    We loved this book too! I really enjoyed reading your review of it. I’d love to invite you to link up anytime at Booknificent Thursday, my all-things-books weekly link-up on!

    • March 1, 2016

      Thank you for the invite, Tina! I might just think about that!

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