The return of the ever popular ancient world sleuth
One of the Roman novels from the bestselling historical fiction Falco series
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 www.lindseydavis.co.uk.
A locked-room murder provides Marcus Didius Falco with an intriguing challenge in Davis's 19th novel to feature the first-century Roman sleuth (after 2007's Saturnalia). In the spring of A.D. 77, while on vacation with his family in Alexandria, Egypt, Falco is stunned to get word that Theon, the Great Library's head librarian, with whom he just dined, has been found dead with neither marks of violence on the body nor evidence of how the killer got away from the scene of the crime. Falco probes the academic politics surrounding the Great Library to determine whether one of Theon's potential successors was the culprit. Other deaths follow, including that of a philosophy student, mauled by a crocodile that escaped from the local zoo. While the impossible crime's solution may disappoint some readers, the twisty plot with its various false leads and the author's plausible depiction of ancient Alexandria make this one of the stronger entries in this solid historical series. (May) Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.
Adult/High School-This is the 17th entry in Davis's popular series about a Roman private "informer" (read private investigator). He normally works for the emperor, but while on vacation in Egypt with his family, Falco is pressed into service as the lead investigator in a high-profile case. The head librarian at Alexandria has been found dead, and all indications suggest murder. The mystery is of the cozy whodunit type with plenty of false trails and suspects galore, clever repartee, and layers of motives to dig through. The setting is lush first-century Egypt, and the period detail is interesting; the characters, both main and secondary, are fully fleshed out. There are some odd notes, such as Falco's offhand references to forensic techniques far ahead of his time and his modern attitude toward his wife, which can be distracting. A very large cast of recurring characters with numerous variations on their names makes this a difficult book to read as a stand-alone, but it should be popular in libraries that have mystery lovers or Falco devotees.-Charli Osborne, Oxford Public Library, MI Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.
Even spies age, but fortunately Marcus Didius Falco-"informer" for the Roman emperor in the first century C.E.-is aging with grace. What makes Davis's long-standing series so indelible is the expert blend of Falco's wisecracking observations and crazy family life with some masterly suspense. In this latest, Falco has taken his pregnant wife, two daughters, and brother-in-law to Alexandria on what is ostensibly a vacation. (They're staying at the house of his wayward uncle and the uncle's partner.) In fact, Falco is charged with keeping his eye on things, and indeed trouble brews right away-the Librarian of Alexandria's great library is found dead in his sealed office. There's been plenty of controversy surrounding the Librarian already, and the controversy over who will succeed him turns bloody. Who knew that the race for a top library spot could be so intriguing? The mystery is intricately plotted, the characters are well drawn, and Falco is as engaging a protagonist as ever, still tough but wiser and more reflective, too. Another winner for historical mystery fans. [See Prepub Mystery, LJ 1/09.]-Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.
A fantastic historical whodunnit * Daily Express *
Like visiting old friends in a familiar and endearing, if sometimes bizarre, environment. Jokes and skulduggery crowd the pages * The Guardian *
The story gallops along at a tremendous pace with humour and suspense dispensed in equal measure * Daily Express *
Another entertaining adventure * Sunday Telegraph *