Plugged In exists to shine a light on the world of popular entertainment while giving you and your family the essential tools you need to understand, navigate and impact the culture in which we live. Through reviews, articles and discussions, we want to spark intellectual thought, spiritual growth and a desire to follow the command of Colossians 2:8: "See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ."


Family uses Plugged In as a ‘significant compass’

"I am at a loss for words to adequately express how much it means to my husband and me to know that there is an organization like Focus that is rooting for us. Just today I was reading Psalm 37 and thinking about how your ministry provides ways to 'dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.' We have two teenagers and an 8-year-old in our household...Plugged In has become a significant compass for our family. All three of our kids are dedicated to their walk with Christ but they still encounter challenges. Thanks for all of your research and persistence in helping us navigate through stormy waters."

Plugged In helps college student stand-up for his belief

"Thanks for the great job you do in posting movie and television reviews online. I’m a college freshman and I recently had a confrontational disagreement with my English professor regarding an R-rated film. It is her favorite movie and she wanted to show it in class. I went to your Web site to research the film’s content. Although I had not seen the movie myself, I was able to make an educated argument against it based on the concerns you outlined. The prof said that she was impressed by my stand and decided to poll the whole class and give us a choice. We overwhelmingly voted to watch a G-rated movie instead! I’ve learned that I can trust your site and I will be using it a lot in the future.”

Plugged In brings ‘Sanity and Order’ to Non-believer

“Even though I don’t consider myself a Christian, I find your Plugged In Web site useful and thought-provoking. No one reviews movies like you do. Instead of being judgmental, you put entertainment ‘on trial.’ After presenting the evidence, you allow the jury of your readers to decide for themselves what they should do. In my opinion, you bring sanity and order to the wild world of modern day entertainment. Keep up the good work!”

Mom thinks Plugged In is the ‘BEST Christian media review site’

"Our family doesn't go to the movies until we go online and check out your assessment of a given film. I think this is the BEST Christian media review website that I've found, and I recommend it to my family and friends. Keep up the good work!"


Our hope is that whether you're a parent, youth leader or teen, the information and tools at Plugged In will help you and your family make appropriate media decisions. We are privileged to do the work we do, and are continually thankful for the generosity and support from you, our loyal readers, listeners and friends.

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Book Review

Detectives in Togas by Henry Winterfeld has been reviewed by Focus on the Family’s marriage and parenting magazine. It is in a series of other books by this German author and translated into English, but there isn’t a series title.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements


Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

In ancient Rome, a Greek mathematician named Xanthos runs a prestigious school. He has seven young students: Mucius, Caius, Rufus, Publius, Julius, Flavius and Antonius. The boys have secretly nicknamed their teacher “Xantippus” because he reminds them of Xantippe, the nagging, bad-tempered wife of Socrates.

One day a silly fight between Rufus and Caius sets off a serious chain of events. Rufus writes Caius is a dumbbell on a tablet and leaves it in front of the classroom. The angry Xantippus threatens to expel Rufus and says he will speak to the boy’s mother the next day. Rufus begs for a different punishment, but the teacher refuses.

The next morning, the boys gather at school, minus Rufus and Caius. They wonder why Caius is absent. When their teacher fails to arrive, they begin to worry about him as well. They speculate that a mysterious seer, Lukos, who lives nearby, has murdered him.

When they finally decide to enter the teacher’s apartment, they find Xantippus bound and gagged in his wardrobe. He says he was attacked, but the thief took only a few of his math books. The injured teacher gives the boys a few days off so he can recover. When he admits he had no real intention of expelling Rufus, the boys run off to tell their friend the news.

On their way to Rufus’ house, they see that a sacred temple has been defaced. In red paint, and in what appears to be Rufus’ handwriting, is written Caius is a dumbbell.

The boys learn Senator Vinicius, Caius’ father, is thinking of pressing charges against Rufus. They rush to Rufus’ house and urge him to run away. Rufus is acting strangely but looks genuinely surprised to hear about the writing on the temple wall. He denies any involvement but recalls that he left his tablet in the classroom. When the boys return to school, they and Xantippus realize the tablet is missing. They suspect someone has stolen it and used it to forge Rufus’ handwriting. The boys visit Caius’ father and urge him to consult a handwriting expert. The expert compares the tablet writing to that of the temple wall and states confidently that the same person wrote both lines. The angry Senator Vinicius has Rufus arrested.

The boys continue their detective work, desperate to clear Rufus’ name. They even pay Lukos a visit, but the seer scares them. While most of the boys escape the way they entered, Mucius gets away by climbing onto the roof and jumping across to the next building. Water breaks his fall, and he realizes he has landed in the Baths of Diana. His timing is fortunate, because the baths are still draining for the night. If he had arrived later, he would have fallen to his death in the empty pool. Unable to get out of the locked front doors, he falls asleep on a bench in the baths.

The next morning, a superintendent shakes him and asks angrily why he is here again. Mucius realizes the man must have seen Rufus the previous day and mistook him for the same boy. Rufus had gone to Lukos and asked him to put a spell on Xantippus so the teacher wouldn’t expel him. Rufus had been forced to escape Lukos’ house the same way Mucius had. Based on the timing of the pool closing and draining, Mucius realizes Rufus would have been locked inside the baths during the time he allegedly defaced the temple.

With the help of their teacher, the boys discover that Lukos is actually a schmoozing ex-consul named Tellus. Tellus posed as a seer to gain information that would keep him grow in his standing with the emperor and other elites. On Rufus’ visit, Rufus discovered Lukos and Tellus were one and the same. Tellus, desperate to flee town before being discovered, framed Rufus for defacing of the temple. He stole Rufus’ scroll and devised a way to transfer the print to the wall so it would be in the boy’s handwriting.

When the boys confront Lukos, he traps them in his house. Xantippus arrives with Senator Vinicius and the law in the nick of time. In the confusion, Tellus slips away and heads for the roof. He tries to escape through the baths but falls to his death instead because they have already been drained for the night. Rufus is released and reinstated at school.

Christian Beliefs


Other Belief Systems

Characters make many references to the gods and swear by their names. They thank them and make offerings to them when Rufus is freed. Lukos is hailed as an astrologist and seer with magical powers.

Authority Roles

Xantippus is a strict teacher who helps the boys clear Rufus’ name. He shows signs of loosening up toward the end of the story. Rufus’ mother is deeply concerned when her son is accused, and she throws a celebration party when he is freed from jail. Senator Vinicius angrily imprisons Rufus but makes things right when Xantippus asks him to help catch the real criminal.


A guard tells the boys to go to the devil when he wants them to leave him alone. After Tellus dies, the boys put a sign on his door indicating that he has moved to Hades. The word jacka-- appears once. Tellus attacks and injures Xantippus, the boys attack Tellus, and Tellus inadvertently jumps to his death in an empty pool. None of these instances are portrayed in graphic detail.



Discussion Topics

Get free discussion questions for this book and others, at FocusOnTheFamily.com/discuss-books.

Additional Comments/Notes

Lying: Mucius lies to a newspaper reporter to get information that will help free Rufus. He says that lying at a time like this doesn’t count.

Alcohol: Tellus gets young Antonius drunk at a party so he can find out what the boys know about his double life.

Slavery: Characters speak off-handedly of having slaves.

You can request a review of a title you can't find at reviewrequests@family.org.

Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. The inclusion of a book's review does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

Episode Reviews



Readability Age Range

7 to 10


Henry Winterfeld






Record Label



Harcourt, Brace & World Inc. (translated from its original German version)


On Video

Year Published





We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Get weekly e-news, Culture Clips & more!