"There are rules for private informers accepting a new case. Never take on clients who cannot pay you. Never do favours for friends. Don't work with relatives. If, like me, you are a woman, keep clear of men you find attractive.
"Will I never learn?"
In Ancient Rome, the number of slaves was far greater than that of free citizens. As a result, often the people Romans feared most were the "enemies at home," the slaves under their own roofs. Because of this, Roman law decreed that if the head of a household was murdered at home, and the culprit wasn't quickly discovered, his slaves—all of them, guilty or not—were presumed responsible and were put to death. Without exception.
When a couple is found dead in their own bedroom and their house burglarized, some of their household slaves know what is about to happen to them. They flee to the Temple of Ceres, which by tradition is respected as a haven for refugees. This is where Flavia Albia comes in. The authorities, under pressure from all sides, need a solution. Albia, a private informer just like her father, Marcus Didius Falco, is asked to solve the murders, in this mystery from Lindsey Davis.
Set in Rome in 89 C.E., Davis's sequel to 2013's The Ides of April boasts a strong female lead. Flavia Albia, the adopted daughter of Marcus Didius Falco, who starred in his own 20-book series, carries on the family tradition as an informer, the ancient Roman equivalent of a private detective. Manlius Faustus, a government official, asks Flavia to find out who strangled Valerius Aviola and Mucia Lucilla, a newlywed couple, in their apartment on the Esquiline Hill. The investigating officer has taken the easy way out by accusing some of the household's slaves of the crime, but Faustus has his doubts. Despite violating a number of her cardinal rules (e.g., "Never take on clients who cannot pay you"), Flavia accepts the case. Diamond Dagger Award winner Davis vividly portrays the setting, "a poisoned city, where a paranoid emperor had caused often-lethal mistrust," but she plays less than fair in her clues to the killer's identity.
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Enemy at Home
Every time I read a Lindsey Davis book, a new level of understanding envelopes me: history, personal and familial relationships, community stratification, and humor.
It is so hard to write how these books reflect so much of the past and the present day. "Enemy at Home" makes me want to read and reread more of Lindsey Davis's books.
I buy her books on line because I am connected to a global library. I read the books again and see or research so many of the places and everyday items written about in her books.
Thank you, Lindsey Davis, for your constant insight into humanity.