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62 of 63 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Introducing Falco
This is the first of a series of detective stories set in Vespasian's Roman Empire and featuring the informer Marcus Didius Falco.

I tried this historical detective story because I had enjoyed Ellis Peter's "Brother Cadfael" detective stories. They were excellent but this is brilliant, as is the rest of the series.

Funny, exciting, and based on a...
Published on 22 July 2007 by Marshall Lord

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Roman Murder Mystery
This is an intelligent murder mystery set in ancient Rome and Britain. The actors work hard, using modern dialogue, to convey the story and create the atmosphere of this distant world. But it didn't quite work for me. Without the descriptive passages of the book it is hard to put the story into its proper context. The hero moves from Rome to Britain and back without...
Published on 16 Oct 2008 by Paul Sloane


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62 of 63 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Introducing Falco, 22 July 2007
By 
Marshall Lord (Whitehaven, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Silver Pigs (Paperback)
This is the first of a series of detective stories set in Vespasian's Roman Empire and featuring the informer Marcus Didius Falco.

I tried this historical detective story because I had enjoyed Ellis Peter's "Brother Cadfael" detective stories. They were excellent but this is brilliant, as is the rest of the series.

Funny, exciting, and based on a painstaking effort to re-create the world of 70 AD.

By chance, Falco rescues a 16-year old girl called Sosia Camillina from a gang of thugs. She turns out to be the illegitimate niece of a senator, who suspects that an illegal trade is going on in silver pigs (ingots) from a godforsaken remote corner of the empire - Britain. To Falco's disgust he has to return to this barbaric spot where he had once served with the legions ...

The events of this story vary from the tragic to the hilarious, and are often completely unexpected. It includes a mystery and the start of a charming ongoing love story.

If you have met and enjoyed the Cadfael series, this is even better.

It isn't absolutely essential to read these stories in sequence, as the mysteries Falco is trying to solve are all self-contained stories and each can stand on its own. Having said that, there is considerable ongoing development of characters and relationships and I think reading them in the right order does improve the experience.

The full Falco series, in chronological order, consists at the moment of:

This book, "The Silver Pigs"
Shadows In Bronze: (Falco 2)
Venus In Copper: (Falco 3)
The Iron Hand Of Mars: (Falco 4)
Poseidon's Gold: (Falco 5)
Last Act in Palmyra (Falco 06)
Time To Depart: (Falco 7)
A Dying Light in Corduba
Three Hands in the Fountain
Two for the Lions
One Virgin Too Many
Ode to a Banker
A Body in the Bath house
The Jupiter Myth
The Accusers
Scandal taks a Holiday
See Delphi and Die
Saturnalia
Alexandria
Nemesis

After "Nemesis" Lyndsey Davis appears to have decided she had done enough with the main characters of the original series, so she started a "Next Generation" follow-on for Falco's family in which his adopted daughter, Flavia Albia, picks up the torch. The first story in the successor series is

The Ides of April (Falco: The New Generation).

I have read and can warmly recommend all of these.

Lindsey Davis has also written a historical novel set in the same timeframe called "The Course of Honor" which is about the love affair between Vespasian and his mistress Caenis. The author has taken the two sentences from Suetonius which are all we know of Caenis, and from them she has conjured the vital image of a woman beautiful in both form and personality and a charming love story.
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37 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A darker novel, but with life and humour, 12 Jun 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: The Silver Pigs (Paperback)
This first 'Falco' novel from Lindsey Davis has a more sombre quality than her subsequent novels but with no less humour and attention to characterisation. This remains my favourite of the series, partly because it defines the relationships between the principal characters. It also tells the events that form the haunting memories of some of Davies' later novels. Like any good read it expands beyond the confines of the pages and grabs the imagination. The smells of the ancient Roman empire, both fragrant and foul, infuse the pages.
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33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent mystery novel set in ancient Rome. 10/10, 28 Jan 2002
This review is from: The Silver Pigs (Hardcover)
Based in ancient Rome in the time of the emperor Vespasian, The Silver Pigs finds itself deep in the intrigue and deception of the roman administrators, right to the top. In his search for the truth it takes Falco, (the main character), to near death in the distant, and freezing, (the Romans didn't have underwear), province of Britannia. Of course, he saves the day but only by weaving his way through the rich and twisting tapestry of everyday life as a roman citizen.
The book is based on a strong plot and a very likable character, but is highly detailed about roman politics and everyday roman life. Anyone can read and enjoy this, you don't have to know anything about ancient Rome but it will appeal more to those who like the roman period. The best thing about the book is that it is the first in a string of Falco novels (thirteen so far, I have them all), so once you are hooked you can follow your hero all over the roman empire as he eaks out an existence doing his bit for Rome and tries to inch his way up the greasy pole to a better life.
I would give this book 10/10, one of the most enjoyable books I have ever read.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent beginning, 9 July 2010
By 
Katie Stevens "Ygraine" (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Silver Pigs (Paperback)
This book felt like the best possible combination of an exciting mystery and a really interesting history lesson. Lindsey Davis has obviously spent a great deal of time and effort researching Rome, the empire and everyday life at the time and it shows. The setting of the book is rich, believable and exactly how I imagine ancient Rome would have been. She also has an useful device of making more knowledgeable characters explain things to less knowledgeable ones, so that details which the reader might not know or understand (such as the process of casting silver pigs) are fully explained without it seeming contrived or out of place. The book managed to walk the delicate line of being educational without being didactic.

I also enjoyed how the author turned all the detective stereotypes around and created a really original character in Falco. Detectives usually have no family: Falco is at the centre of a huge Italian family of chattering women, complete with overbearing mother. They usually have troubled pasts: Falco has a slightly embarrassing one that he'd rather no one mentioned. The list of his interesting characteristics goes on, and his wry observations made him a perfect first person narrator. The other characters in the book are equally well thought out: bold, brash and full of life. I look forward to meeting them again in subsequent books, as I'll definitely be reading more of this series.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Start of a Wonderful Series, 7 Mar 2007
By 
J. Chippindale (England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This is the first novel in the mystery series featuring Marcus Didius Falco, an informer and sleuth. A series of books that have become hugely popular, so much so that the author is now at the forefront of historical mystery writers. It was probably a stroke of genius on the part of the author to have novels that are extremely well researched and contain all the elements that would be and should be found in Rome in AD70, but to have a lead character who has the vocabulary of a present day New York cop.

Falco has done his time in the legions in that god forsaken place called Britain and it is the last place on earth that he would return to through choice but he has been told by the powers that be that he will go back to Britain and no, there is no choice.

When he arrives the weather is even worse than he remembered and the natives are still as unfriendly as ever. He just wants to complete his mission, find the missing silver and get the hell out of it, that is until he meets the lovely Helena Justina and if he thought he was having a hard time before he met her, he was in for an almighty shock.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Love this recording!, 20 Sep 2007
By 
LJM "LJM" (Coventry, UK) - See all my reviews
A total treat to listen to! I got into the Falco books through this BBC recording. I actually thought this was one of BBC7's special one-off dramas - silly me! Anton Lesser's voice is simply perfect for Falco - the lightness hiding, whilst exposing, so much depth of feeling. And he conveys Falco's confusion over his depth of feeling for Helena so well. Lesser makes Falco sound almost star struck, as if he's in awe of this Senator's daughter and has no idea where he stands with her. At the end, when he finds Helena on his balcony, the way that he says "I want you to stay" is soooooooo seductive. I'd have stayed! And Fritha Goodey was such a wonderful Helena. She managed to convey Helena's experience, cynicism and sadness,but also her joy and sense of fun. And her voice fitted beautifully with that of Lesser. A sad, sad loss.

It was interesting coming to the novels, which I love, after hearing this recording. I've now also bought Shadows in Bronze and Venus in Copper, and the recordings stand on their own two feet. I've yet to hear The Iron Hand of Mars, but that'll brighten my November!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exceeded my expectations, 6 April 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: The Silver Pigs (Paperback)
Having read good reviews of Lindsey Davis's latest Falco books, I decided it was time I tried them and started at the beginning with the first in the series. I was surprised and delighted by her great sense of humour - the cynical, earthy Falco wit is just great. I also enjoy the details of Roman times and places, and find the characters nicely developed. Definitely recommended.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fast moving historical detective novel, 10 Jun 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: The Silver Pigs (Paperback)
Davis' quick paced beautifully set Roman detective novel makes you forget about what ever it was that was bothering you when you picked up the book. Her hero, Falco, is grimy enough to match the book version of Lovejoy. The historical detail is incredible, though delivered with an incredibly light touch. A good fun read.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow!!! A FANTASTIC book! Humour, mstery and ancient history all combined!, 24 May 2011
By 
E. Heckingbottom "elaineheck143" (U.K.) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Silver Pigs (Paperback)
I love this series!

My first introduction to the series was through the audio bookFalco: See Delphi and Die (A Marcus Didius Falco Mystery) which has had me intrigued as I've listened to it in the car ... diversions; sitting in a parked car and listening for more; driving more slowly to give me more listening time ... all these have helped. however, after only a few chapters I realised that I was addicted, and so downloaded this and two more from the Kindle website. Although I am still listening to the last 2 CDs of See Delphi and Die, I have read this and the majority of the sequel ... and can see that I will have downloaded teh whole series before the start of the Summer holidays!

However, the more I hear and the more I read, the more I find myself saying 'Plus ca change, plus ca reste la meme!' ... or, in plain English, nothing really changes!

A highly recommended series. Give it a go!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Roman Murder Mystery, 16 Oct 2008
This is an intelligent murder mystery set in ancient Rome and Britain. The actors work hard, using modern dialogue, to convey the story and create the atmosphere of this distant world. But it didn't quite work for me. Without the descriptive passages of the book it is hard to put the story into its proper context. The hero moves from Rome to Britain and back without any real sense of the nature, danger or length of the journeys involved. The plot moves briskly with some good twists and surprises. It is a little heavy-going at times; you have to concentrate to follow it and it is not completely convincing. But it is enjoyable nonetheless.
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The Silver Pigs
The Silver Pigs by Lindsey Davis (Paperback - 7 Sep 2000)
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