Lindsey Davis is well known as a historical fiction writer and her character Marcus Didius Falco became the leading character in the Roman era fiction novels. Falco has retired now but his adopted British daughter Flavia Albia has taken up the rains of Informer – the Roman equivalent of a private detective.
- Lindsey Davis
Set in Rome during the annual elections of Plebeian Aedile, the most junior of politicians and for a year act as Magistrates. There are half a dozen candidates for two posts, each with a background they would not like exposed during the elections. Flavia has an admirer, feelings returned by Flavia buit neither ready to take the plunge. Her admirer, Manlius Faustus is a magistrate who is acting as political agent for one of the candidates.
In the meantime, at her family auction house, an old trunk is put up for sale, but is found to have a body decomposing inside it. Slightly off putting to buyers and annoying to Falvia who sets out to discover who this person is and how he came to be in the box. Intrigue, political backstabbing, and a bit of real stabbing, carries on throughout the book. The box is found to belong to one of the families of a candidate, who try to buy the box back. Why are they doing that when all they had to do was withdraw it from sale?
The elections are surrounded by rumours about each of the candidates, put about by their rivals. Most are true, some more true than others. Through this murk of political intrigue and murder Flavia, and her admirer not her lover (in-joke throughout the book), wade and deflect in order that their candidate has a chance of winning. Money changes hands, bribes are levied and important Freemen ared persuaded, or otherwise to back one or other of the creatures up for election. None of the candidates comes out squeaky clean and Davis paints a very murky picture of Roman politics.
With her usual humour and really good writing this turns into a smooth flowing, intriguing and interesting romp through Roman life on the Forum; and in the gutters. Bodies and conspiracies abound yet Flavia keeps ahead of everyone in tracking down the culprits and their reasons.
For anyone who likes fiction from the Roman era these are good reads, for fans of Falco these are a wonderful extension of the family tale, for anyone just looking for a good who-dunit then look no further, this is the book.
4.5 Mr MRH from me for a clear story told of a murky tale.