One of the Roman novels from the bestselling historical fiction Falco series.
‘Luckily the judge was eager to adjourn for lunch.’
Having returned from his trip to Londinium, Falco takes up employment with two lawyers at the top of their trade. For the trial of a senator, they need Falco to make an affidavit confirming repayment of a loan. Having been out of the country and starved of Forum gossip for some time, Falco has little interest in this trial, so he makes his deposition and then leaves.
The prosecution are successful and a large financial judgment is made, but one month later the senator is dead, apparently by suicide. The heirs are now in a situation of not having to pay up, and the prosecutor suddenly decides to seek out Falco. With a little coercion, Falco joins the prosecution in seeking to persuade a magistrate to instigate a new trial. Blinded by the vision of rich pickings to be gained by the prosecution, Falco temporarily forgets that, if they fail, the financial penalties levelled against the informers who brought the case are potentially enormous.
Fans of "informer" Marcus Didius Falco will be glad to find the classical world's answer to the modern-day gumshoe back in Rome in Davis's stellar historical, the 15th entry in this witty and learned series, after two adventures set in Britain (A Body in the Bathhouse; The Jupiter Myth). In an effort to resume his career as an informer on his home turf, Falco ends up playing advocate in a messy dispute that pits him against two highly successful "legals," Paccius Africanus and Silius Italicus. The convoluted case, which involves a wealthy, fractious family and tricky questions of inheritance, gives Davis the opportunity to explore the vagaries of Roman law, which she approaches with her usual mix of respect and sarcasm. The corruption conviction of senator Rubirius Metellus followed by his mysterious demise threaten the Metelli family's fortunes. Hired to prove the senator's death was not a suicide, Falco finds himself immersed in scandal, blackmail, corruption and intrigue common ingredients of legal practice. In one particularly fine scene, Falco delivers a speech in the Basilica that relies on amusing and effective rhetorical tricks. Wry, cynical and principled, Falco makes the perfect guide to Davis's vividly realized ancient Rome.