The 20th book in the bestselling Falco detective series.
Lindsey Davis has written twenty novels, beginning with The Course of Honour, the love story of the Emperor Vespasian and Antonia Caenis. Her bestselling mystery series features laid-back First Century detective Marcus Didius Falco and his partner Helena Justina, plus friends, relations, pets and bitter enemy the Chief Spy. Her books are translated into many languages and serialised on BBC Radio 4. Past Chair of the Crimewriters' Association and a Vice President of the Classical Association, she has won the CWA Ellis Peters Historical Dagger, the Dagger in the Library, and a Sherlock award for Falco as Best Comic Detective. She was born in Birmingham but now lives in London.
Davis immediately engages the reader's sympathies in her fine 20th ancient Roman historical featuring informer Marcus Didius Falco (after 2009's Alexandria) with her moving depiction of the death of Falco's newborn son. When Falco seeks out his father to share the horrible news, he's stunned to learn that "Pa" has also died. While Falco is coming to terms with the double tragedy, an associate asks him to help look into the murder of Julius Modestus, an art dealer whose mutilated body was dumped in a mausoleum. Falco learns that Modestus and his wife vanished after making complaints about the difficult Claudii, freedmen who originally came from the imperial family, with whom the couple had a border dispute in the Pontine Marshes. With its tricky, suspenseful plot, this entry deserves to join its immediate predecessor on bestseller lists, though some modern-sounding prose ("Have they lawyered up?" one character asks) won't please every historical fan. (Sept.) Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.
Witty, wisecracking Roman informer Marcus Didius Falco is back (after the best-selling Alexandria), and his story just got darker: this book opens with the death of Falco's newborn son and Falco's father. Sure, Pa was a reprobate, and he left Falco a hefty inheritance. But with that inheritance comes the headache of managing it, which means (among other things) sorting out a contract regarding 111 statues Pa was jobbing for the new amphitheater. Inconveniently, the art dealer from whom Pa purchased the statues has vanished, as has his wife; seems they'd had words with the Claudii, a notorious family of freed slaves living beyond the law in the fly-infested Pontine Marshes. Meanwhile, Falco's buddy Petronius Longus is investigating a nasty murder, which sends them both into the marshlands, where they are one-upped by the Claudii and then removed from the case. Who's protecting the Claudii back in Rome, and why are Chief Spy Anacrites's two ugly bodyguards dogging Falco? Verdict Another well-plotted Falco mystery, more emotionally complex than others, but it may unsettle some fans; yes, it's darker, and our boys push the envelope in their search for justice. Still important for lovers of historical mystery.-Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.