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Alexandria (Falco 19) [Hardcover]

Lindsey Davis
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)

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Book Description

5 Feb 2009 Falco 19
For Marcus Didius Falco, agent to the Emperor Vespasian, Alexandria holds fascination and a hint of fear. Beautiful, historic and famously unruly, the great cosmopolitan city wears Roman rule lightly. While his wife, Helena Justina, wants to see the Lighthouse and the Pyramids, Falco has a mission at the Great Library that soon turns out to involve much more than stock-taking its innumerable scrolls. A mysterious death in the world-famous library bring him into immediate conflict with the darker side of academic life. With forensic science in its infancy, even an illegal autopsy fails to find real answers.To solve the crime for the Roman Prefect - if indeed it is a crime - Falco will have to draw on his own doggedness and intuition, at first supported only by Helena's commonsense and the loyal backup of her brother Aulus, who goes under cover as a student among the in-fighting academics. The philosophers lust after fame and fortune so ruthlessly there is soon another terrifying death, this time at the royal zoo. At the same time, his original innocent mission is overshadowed by the machinations of his Uncle Fulvius, who is living in Alexandria with his partner Cassius for obscure reasons. Their involvement in local affairs already seems shady when they are joined by their crony, Falco's father, Geminus, a man well known for disreputable business practices. If the irrepressible Pa has had any hand in what has gone wrong at the Library, Falco knows he stands no chance...

Product details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Century; Second Editon edition (5 Feb 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846052874
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846052873
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 16 x 3.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 469,168 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Lindsey Davis has written nineteen novels, beginning with The Course of Honour, the love story of the Emperor Vespasian and Antonia Caenis. 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. Her books are translated into many languages and serialised on BBC Radio 4. Past Chair of the Crimewriters' Association and a Vice President of the Classical Association, she has won the CWA Ellis Peters Historical Dagger, the Dagger in the Library, and a Sherlock award for Falco as Best Comic Detective. She was born in Birmingham but now lives in London.

Product Description


"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) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Book Description

One of the Roman novels from the bestselling historical fiction Falco series --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Falco still going strong 28 Mar 2009
For many years I have enjoyed the adventures of Marcus Didius Falco, the streetwise Roman detective created by Lindsey Davis. From his rough origins as an informer in first century A.D. Rome to his slightly more staid middle-class status in the later novels, Falco never fails to entertain. The plots of these novels is always good, with plenty of interesting characters (as well as sinister ones) and no lack of action.
What lifts Miss Davis work above the mainstream of crime fiction is her sense of humor combined with her talent for creating memorable characters.
Falco comes complete with a huge family of complete misfits, most of them instantly recognizable to most readers because we all have an auntie or uncle who is just like that. This particular novel is set in ancient Egypt and is certainly up to the usual high standard. Warmly recommended to wile away a rainy day!
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68 of 73 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Falco 19: the body in the Great Library 13 Feb 2009
By Marshall Lord TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is number nineteen in a series of excellent detective stories set in Vespasian's Roman Empire and featuring the informer Marcus Didius Falco. It has perhaps the best opening in the series so far:

"They say you can see the Lighthouse from thirty miles away. Not in the day, you can't."

Informers in ancient Rome were something between a private detective and a government spy: in the cast list at the start of the book Falco now describes himself as "fixer, traveller and playwright."

It is spring AD77. Falco's wife Helena Justina has always wanted to see all of the "Seven Wonders of the World". In a previous book, "See Delphi and Die" Falco and Helena have seen the Temple of Zeus at Olympus. Falco writes that they had also visited Athens on the same trip.

(Pedant alert: there was more than one ancient list of the seven wonders of the world, but neither the traditional list of seven wonders compiled by Philo of Byzantium in 225 BC, nor any of the other contemporary versions I can find, include the Parthenon or anything else at Athens. Never mind.)

When Helena gets an invitation to pay a family visit to Falco's uncle in Alexandria, she realises that accepting the invitation would give her the opportunity to see three more wonders. These are the Colossus of Rhodes (which they saw on the way to Alexandria before the start of this book), the Pharos or Great Lighthouse at Alexandria, and the Great Pyramid of Cheops at Gisa.

The visit will also take in the Great Library at Alexandria, and it turns out that Emperor Vespasian has a little job he wants done which requires a trip to the Great Library.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Still Going Strong 14 April 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
All the ingredients of a good Falco story are here and I started it with enthusiasm but I soon decided that there was very little fresh in the characters and plot and the Alexandrian setting,even with information about the libraries and zoo, did not add enough so that I found myself skipping sections at a time.
Nothing wrong- it just didn't hold my interest like the early stories did.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Groove or rut? 19 Jun 2010
By Graham R. Hill VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
It's recognisable, comfortable and unthreatening enough and it's certainly better than its predecessor. But it is very much the same as before; enough action to last most people a lifetime crammed into a few days and surrounded by a potted precis of a guide book/history of Alexandria. One attraction of the Falco books always used to be the realisation of how sophisticated and, well, modern the first century Romans were. But I must confess that I've stopped believing in the setting. Did people of that era really travel as often as he does to all corners of the known world and continually bump into people they have already met before?

Anyway it's well-enough plotted (although it would be a welcome change for Falco to come up against a crime that wasn't a conspiracy)and moves along quickly enough. And whether it is indeed a groove or a rut it carries us forward to the next instalment, apparently back in Rome.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Boring Lindsey Davis Alexandria 8 April 2010
Sadly, as a fan of her earlier Falco novels, I gave up on this one. Her desire to parade her knowledge of matters Roman - and here also Roman era Egyptian - gets in the way of a good murder. The novel's pace is too slow and the style too discursive for Falco's hard-hitting, 'cut to the chase' methods and solutions.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Alexandrian fruit cocktail 22 May 2009
I was personally very impressed by this latest in the series of Falco novels. Very few writers have been able to capture the heady atmosphere of the magnificent and now largely lost ancient city of Alexandria is such vivid and eloquent terms. It was also a great joy to hear more of Uncle Fulvius and his partner, Cassius. I think those two wily reprobates will make a great addition to the Falco series in the future. Finally, who could possibly resist a tale of shifty academics, escaped monsters, burning scrolls and gloriously ominous librarians? I'm all for a taste of the exotic, and this Alexandrian fruit cocktail surely packs quite a punch!
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Alexandria - Lindsey Davis 28 April 2009
An excellent addtion to the Falco series; greatly anticipated, much enjoyed. The cast of characters included several new faces, we could however, have had a few new personalities that are going to hang around a bit longer. The bad guy's are new, but you have to determine between Falco's judgement or their actions to identify them. With regular bad guys, (Anacrities, etc) you can look forward to bad things happening. Falco has worked with his father before, (Poseidon's Gold) where they combined their efforts successfully. I think it's about time Lindsey Davis had Falco and his father on the same side, they don't have to be best buddies, (Petro Longinus is that), but it could work with a lot of banter and friction between them.

All told this is another fine description of roman life, with the addition that it gives a good pen portrait of Alexandria, (I thought Julius Caeser burned down the whole library!).
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Pretty good
Not the best Falco, but it's Falco and much better than Ode to a Banker, the poorest book in the series.
Published 7 days ago by Redland
5.0 out of 5 stars A thrilling Falco mystery!
This exciting mystery is the 19th part of the great Falco series.
As ever the historical details behind the story have been very well researched by the author. Read more
Published 29 days ago by Anastatius
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Always enjoy her books.
Published 2 months ago by brian
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
excellent a great story and a really engaging reader , a voice that really suits the main character
Published 2 months ago by ROBERT EDEN
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Another great Falco book.
Published 2 months ago by Gillian
5.0 out of 5 stars Ancient Roman Detective Series
I would recommend this to anyone who has an interest in ancient Roman history as Lindsey Davis goes into such detail of every day life in Rome and the parts of the world that came... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Noreen Adie
5.0 out of 5 stars A deadly hush in the library.
She has done it again! Another brilliant Falco and Helena travelogue. Deadly politics and book stealing. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Kindle Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Falco
I have now read all the Falco series up to this one and I have to say I have enjoyed every one. Lindsey Davies books are a 'must read', good stories with a mix of adventure and... Read more
Published 11 months ago by Mr. G. G. Bryant
5.0 out of 5 stars Great as ever from Lindsey.
Great as ever from Lindsey - more original, more amusing, more daring - with every run out. Falco fans don't miss this. everyone else you've got to try this.
Published 12 months ago by John P
1.0 out of 5 stars Poor quality
This review concerns the quality of the outside of my second hand book, not the contents, which I expect to be quite good. But this item was sold on Amazon as being very good. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Bellatrix
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