The much awaited latest installment in this New York Times bestselling series brings Marcus Didius Falco back to the city of Rome and its deadly, convoluted intrigues
In the high summer of A.D. 77, Roman informer Marcus Didius Falco is beset by personal problems. Newly bereaved and facing unexpected upheavals in his life, it is a relief for him to consider someone else's misfortunes. A middle-aged couple who supplied statues to his father, Geminus, have disappeared under mysterious circumstances. They had an old feud with a bunch of notorious freedmen, the Claudii, who live rough in the pestilential Pontine Marshes, terrorizing the neighborhood.
When a mutilated corpse turns up near Rome, Falco and his vigiles friend Petronius investigate, even though it means traveling in the dread marshes. But just as they are making progress, the Chief Spy, Anacrites, snatches their case away from them. As his rivalry with Falco escalates, he makes false overtures of friendship, but fails to cover up the fact that the violent Claudii have acquired corrupt protection at the highest level. Making further enquiries after they have been warned off can only be dangerous—but when did that stop Falco and Petronius?
Egged on by the slippery bureaucrats who hate Anacrites, the dogged friends dig deeper while a psychotic killer keeps taking more victims, and the shocking truth creeps closer and closer to home.
After Alexandria, the first book in this long-running series to hit the New York Times Bestseller list, Lindsey Davis brings her beloved characters and series back to Rome in a book that brings together a number of long-running plot threads to surprising and compelling conclusions.
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.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Another Lindsey Davis worth reading again and again. A deep understanding of human nature applied to family and society.
This is one of my favorites in the Falco series.
The story was rich, the characters were so interesting.
I really enjoyed the my beloved characters ups and downs.
I will be reading this book again.
I hope this is not the end of Falco!
A great contribution to interpreting the Roman life in the time of Vespasian. But also a great pleasure to check in on our friend Marcus Didius Falco and his extended family. I hope the end of his own nemesis will not end the interesting tensions of his life that have kept us entertained. I am hoping for further installments now that his money problems are solved and his dangerous rival has been taken care off. I think this series is a brilliant take on life in imperial times in Rome, and this issue is extremely satisfying!