Think ‘Ancient Roman detective series’, and you have several choices. But despite the American Stephen Saylor’s always reliable Gordianus the Finder books, many readers would vote for the splendid Falco books by the British writer Lindsey Davis. With her various outings for her canny and tenacious Roman sleuth, Davis has created a sequence of books that have immense vitality to match their spot-on historical detail. Recently, Davis has written in different areas from that of her customary historical patch, but Falco aficionados will be pleased to see his creator once chronicling his prowlings around the Domus Aurea. In the latest book, Nemesis
, it is the summer of 77AD, and Marcus Didius Falco is finding that his troubles are ganging up on him. To distract himself from his recent bereavement, he plunges into a new assignment – a couple who provided statues for his father have vanished under puzzling circumstances. A clue might be found in the couple’s dispute with a malign group of freedmen, the Claudii, thuggish types who threaten the neighbourhood from their Pontine Marshes lair. Then a gruesomely mutilated body is found near Rome, and this mystery is also on the agenda for Falco. As often before, he is to find (via his investigations) that the smell of corruption can be detected even in the highest echelons.
Falco is characterised in Nemesis with all the usual gusto, and, as ever, Davis is adept at convincing us that her hero’s anachronistically modern sensibility sits persuasively in ancient Rome. And the experience of living in that world is captured with great imagination. --Barry Forshaw
"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)