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The 20th book in the bestselling Falco detective series.

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One of the stories from the bestselling historical fiction Falco series

About the Author

Lindsey Davis has written over twenty historical novels, beginning with The Course of Honour. 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. After an English degree at Oxford University Lindsey joined the Civil Service, but became a professional author in 1989. Her books are translated into many languages and have been dramatized on BBC Radio 4. Her many 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. For more information, please visit


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.

"Davis is a prolific and popular writer ... Her research has been assiduous and detailed, her commitment to the subject is impressive, and the background detail is often eye-opening" -- Hilary Mantel Observer "One of the best of the current writers in this field" -- Donna Leon The Times "Surely the best historical detective in the business" -- Mike Ripley Daily Telegraph "The whole thing is splendid. It has everything: mystery, pace wit, fascinating scholarship ... she brings imperial Rome to life" -- Ellis Peters

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