Lindsey Davis has written more than 20 historical novels, beginning with "The Course of Honor." After an English degree at Oxford University Lindsey joined the Civil Service, and became a professional author in 1989. Her books are translated into many languages and have been dramatized on BBC Radio 4. Her prizes include the Premio Colosseo, awarded by the Mayor of Rome "for enhancing the image of Rome," the Sherlock award for Falco as Best Comic Detective, and the Crimewriters Association Cartier Diamond Dagger for lifetime achievement."
Describe a detective in seedy surroundings, an impulsive young woman, intrigue in high places, and the plot sounds all too familiar. But, name the detective Marcus Didius Falco, place him in first-century Rome, and an entertaining newcomer to fictional detectives is introduced. In 70 A.D., Falco is a cynical observer of himself and society under the new emperor, Vespasian. An encounter with a senator's niece precipitates a sequence of events including murder, plots within the ruling family, and a trip to Britain to uncover thefts in the Roman silver mines. Woven into Falco's adventures are humor, romance, suspense, and clues for the discerning reader. The maps are helpful and even the ``Dramatis Personae'' is entertaining. Highly recommended for mystery or historical fiction collections.-- Ellen Kaye Stoppel, Drake Univ. Law Lib., Des Moines
The intriguing premise of a detective story set in Imperial Rome in 70 A.D. is unpredictably fulfilled by Davis's hero-gumshoe, M. Didius Falco, an iconoclastic young republican. Falco rescues the niece of a senator from a kidnapping attempt, is attracted by both her innocence and the secret she keeps regarding a silver ingot (the ``pig'' of the title) and then stricken when her corpse is found in a spice warehouse. Hired by her family to track down the reasons behind her death, Falco spends the winter in Britain working as a slave in a silver mine. Enduring vividly depicted hardship with customary sharp-witted pluck, he picks up the hints of a plan to overthrow Vespasian, the current emperor. He also meets the senator's divorced, sharp-tongued daughter, Helena Justina, and brings her back to Rome where they work with--and against--each other to bring the well-developed plot to its satisfying conclusion. Wisecracking in ancient idiom, Falco seems, nevertheless, a recognizably up-to-date young man, one whose honor, humor and humanity work him quickly into reader's affection. Davis's story, though couched in period detail, rewards as much for deft handling of plot and depth of characterization as for its historicity. (Aug.)