Venus in Copper: Lindsey Davis

★★★½

Marcus Didius Falco: Book 3

Yes, all right, I’m reading out of order again. When I bought this book the other day, I knew that I had Book 2 lying around somewhere, but just couldn’t put my finger on it. Only now, as I write, have I noticed it staring at me accusingly from the bookshelf (if you’ve been to my flat, this state of mild book chaos will be understandable). I just couldn’t resist a touch of Roman comedy crime drama, so went ahead with Venus in Copper in the hope that I’d be able to catch up; and I have, though I’ve evidently missed a couple of crucial plot points for the wider series. In this instalment, our Roman gumshoe is hired for what seems to be an everyday kind of case: checking the credentials of a potential bride. But there are two catches. He’s been hired not by the groom, but by the groom’s sisters-in-law (the whole family being almost embarrassingly arriviste); and the problem is not the character of the bride so much as the fact that her last three husbands have died swiftly, in mysterious circumstances. What is Severina Zotica up to?

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The Silver Pigs: Lindsey Davis

★★★

Marcus Didius Falco: Book I

Falco and I have been waiting for a long time to get to know each other. Now, as I come to the end of my review copies (just three to go before I have a clean slate!), I’ve decided to treat myself to an introduction to everyone’s favourite Roman sleuth. As you’ll have noticed, I tend to avoid historical mysteries, simply because they’ve become so much of a cliché in recent years; but I’m willing to make exceptions for Falco and for Cadfael, both of whom were in on the act before it became a bandwagon. Thanks to Master and God, I already knew that I loved Lindsey Davis’s writing style. This first Falco novel isn’t as polished as her more recent work, but it was heaps of fun and I’m eager to carry on.

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Master and God: Lindsey Davis

★★★★

An Epic of Rome, Tyranny and Love

I discovered this novel tucked away near the back of our little lending-library shelf at work. I’m not all that familiar with Lindsey Davis’s Falco books, but I’ve read the one where he goes to Alexandria and remembered enjoying it, so I decided to give this standalone novel a try. Like the Falco series it’s set in ancient Rome, this time roughly covering the period of the emperor Domitian, from 80-96 AD. However it isn’t a mystery and, as far as I know, the characters are entirely different from those in Falco. From the very first line (‘It was a quiet afternoon on the Via Flaminia‘) I was drawn into Davis’s world, and can honestly say that this has been one of the most heartwarming, lovable books I’ve read in a long time.

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