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Illegally Dead - Chapter 1

    Valeria Marilla gives greetings to her adoptive parents Marcus Valerius Messalla Corvinus and Rufia Perilla.
Hi, how are you? Thanks for the books you sent, especially (Clarus says to be sure to tell you) the replacement for his father’s Rhizotomica that Corydon ate. Everything here is much as usual. Aunt Marcia has had a bit of trouble with her knee again but she says the liniment Clarus brought round is working really well; also Laertes’s piles are improving, although I’m not supposed to mention them. Dassa caught another cold at the end of last month (!), but Clarus and I have been feeding her hot grain mash and giving her regular chest rubs and an evening cup of mulled Caecuban so barring the usual croaking and sneezing she’s not too bad. Placida’s settling down nicely after that unfortunate business with Cloelia Secunda and the topiary hedge, although you’ve still got to watch her with next door’s mastiff and both households now keep a bucket of water handy for what Aunt Marcia calls their Mutual Bouts of Unacceptable Behaviour. Clarus is still working on her flatulence problem (Placida’s, not Aunt Marcia’s)ssince the charcoal pills I mentioned in my last letter don’t seem to be having the effect he hoped for, quite the reverse - Clarus says this is a pharmaceutical anomaly, but there you are. On the positive side, now we’ve fenced off the pig run the rolling problem seems to be under control. More or less. Oh, and by the way, please could you come down here as soon as possible? Clarus thinks there’s been a murder.