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This is the fifteenth novel in the mystery series featuring Marcus Didius Falco, an informer and sleuth in Rome at the time of Vespasian. 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 her part to have novels that are extremely well researched and contain all the elements that would be and should be found in the Roman world of circa AD70, but to have a lead character who has the vocabulary of a present day New York cop.

After spending more time than he intended to in Britain (The Jupiter Myth) Falco is back in his beloved Rome. In theory he is still an informer for the Emperor although the less he sees of the Imperial family, the better he will like it. He becomes embroiled in a dispute between two high successful members of the legal profession and of course the dispsute ends up in a death.

Hired to prove that the senator's death was not suicide, Falco find himself following a trail of scanal, blackmail and corruption, the like of which even he has rarely seen. Has he bitten off more than he can chew this time. After all he is playing with the big boys now . . .
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 5 February 2009
This is number fifteen in a series of excellent detective stories set in Vespasian's Roman Empire and featuring the informer Marcus Didius Falco. Informers in ancient Rome were something between a private detective and a government spy.

Back from Britain, Falco and his business partners get involved in a court case. The story highlights both some of the similarities and differences between courts in Ancient Rome and today. One similarity is that there were elaborate, complex and highly controversial court cases about large sums of money, in which the winners could make their fortunes and the losers face financial ruin. One difference is that, while in our courts the clients can win a fortune or be ruined but you can be certain that the lawyers on both sides will come out well ahead; in ancient Rome the laywers also faced the prospect of vast returns or utter ruin.

(There will of course be those who argue that in this respect the Roman legal system was far superior to ours ...)

The first commission which Falco and Associates receive on returning to Rome is securing and presenting some evidence in the trial of a senator for corruption. This is accomplished with no great difficulty: some time later Falco hears that the Senator has been convicted. Then two days later, the Senator dies, apparently by his own hand, and possibly to save his heirs from having to pay the fine.

(This gives rise to one of the best lines in the book - Falco says of the deceased's lawyer "It was a chilling thought that counselling his client to die may have been good legal advice.")

Falco and associates are offered a commission to prove that the death was not in fact suicide. Soon they find themselves prosecuting a new legal case - in which victory will bring great returns, and defeat may bring ruin ...

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

1) The Silver Pigs
2) Shadows in Bronze
3) Venus in Copper
4) The Iron Hand of Mars
5) Poseidon's Gold
6) Last Act in Palmyra
7) Time to Depart
8) A Dying Light in Corduba
9) Three Hands in the Fountain
10) Two for the Lions
11) One Virgin Too Many
12) Ode to a Banker
13) A Body in the Bath house
14) The Jupiter Myth
15) The Accusers
16) Scandal taks a Holiday
17) See Delphi and Die
18) Saturnalia
19) Alexandria
20) Nemesis

I can warmly recommend all the titles so far published in this series.

I initially tried this series because I had enjoyed the "Cadfael" mediaeval detective stories by Ellis Peters. Where Cadfael is excellent, Falco is brilliant. Ellis Peters herself (or to use her real name, Edith Pargeter) said of the early books of the series, 'Lindsey Davis continues her exploration of Vespasian's Rome and Marcus Didius Falco's Italy with the same wit and gusto that made "The Silver Pigs" such a dazzling debut and her rueful, self-deprecating hero so irresistibly likeable.'

Funny, exciting, and based on a painstaking effort to re-create the world of the early Roman empire between 70 and 76 AD.

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 book can stand on its own. Having said that, there is some ongoing development of characters and relationships and I think reading them in the right order does improve the experience.

The author has written two other novels which are not part of the Falco series: "The Course of Honor" is set at the same time as the Falco books and brings to life Caenis, a historical figure only known to us through a few lines in Suetonius, who was Vespasian's mistress. The other is "Rebels and Traitors" which is set at the time of the British civil wars.
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VINE VOICEon 16 July 2003
Yes, I admit that I am a great fan of the Falco series. This is yet another addition that I highly recommend to anyone who has read, or is new to, the series.
I must be right as everyone I recommend these to borrows my copies and take ages to give them back.
Here we find Falco back from his hols in Londinium and looking to re-establish the presence of Falco & Associates to a rather indifferent Roman citizenry.
We have had Roman builders; actors; gladiators; provincial governors; bankers and antique dealers. Now we have the Roman legal system.
The good thing about these books is that you not only get a cracking good detective story but also a beginner's guide to various aspects of Roman life. So you learn as you enjoy. A great reason to read full stop.
Here we find that Roman "lawyers" made their reputation by accusing members of the middle and upper classes of various acts of corruption and malefluence. If you win you not only do your reputation good but also earn some money in the process as you share in their estate if they lose.
There was a downside. Lose and you lose money in damages. Therefore you need to keep playing the field and get it right more often than not. Did people abuse this process.... of course, that's what these things are there for.
What starts out as an easy job for Falco & Associates in statement taking leads to a series of trials that arise from the result of the initial trial. There are family secrets that need to be discovered and court cases to win. Can Falco actually beat the system again? Are the lawyers as honest as we would hope?
One thing we do learn is that if you lose a case then you can escape paying the penalty the easy way..... just commit suicide. Your family get to keep the money and your accusers lose out. A win win situation... apart from your death of course.
Read it and find out.
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on 17 June 2003
Lovers of Falco will not need to be told that a treat awaits them in Lindsey Davis' latest novel. As for the rest of you - where have you been until now? A new Falco novel now seems to be an established early summer celebration and this year's offering is no exception. He's back from Britain, he's back in Rome and very soon he's back in trouble. The book is a cracking good read that stands alone even if you've never heard of Falco before. For those of us whove learned the secret, we get to catch up on characters old and new, to fight our way through clever red herrings and eventually to discover the truth several sentences before the final denoument! However, if it is your first encounter with Ms Davis' wonderful detective, I envy you most because you've got another 14 treats to occupy the rest of the year until the next new offering!
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This is the fifteenth novel in the mystery series featuring Marcus Didius Falco, an informer and sleuth in Rome at the time of Vespasian. 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 her part to have novels that are extremely well researched and contain all the elements that would be and should be found in the Roman world of circa AD70, but to have a lead character who has the vocabulary of a present day New York cop.

After spending more time than he intended to in Britain (The Jupiter Myth) Falco is back in his beloved Rome. In theory he is still an informer for the Emperor although the less he sees of the Imperial family, the better he will like it. He becomes embroiled in a dispute between two high successful members of the legal profession and of course the dispsute ends up in a death.

Hired to prove that the senator's death was not suicide, Falco find himself following a trail of scanal, blackmail and corruption, the like of which even he has rarely seen. Has he bitten off more than he can chew this time. After all he is playing with the big boys now . . .
0Comment|One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
This is the fifteenth novel in the mystery series featuring Marcus Didius Falco, an informer and sleuth in Rome at the time of Vespasian. 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 her part to have novels that are extremely well researched and contain all the elements that would be and should be found in the Roman world of circa AD70, but to have a lead character who has the vocabulary of a present day New York cop.

After spending more time than he intended to in Britain (The Jupiter Myth) Falco is back in his beloved Rome. In theory he is still an informer for the Emperor although the less he sees of the Imperial family, the better he will like it. He becomes embroiled in a dispute between two high successful members of the legal profession and of course the dispsute ends up in a death.

Hired to prove that the senator's death was not suicide, Falco find himself following a trail of scanal, blackmail and corruption, the like of which even he has rarely seen. Has he bitten off more than he can chew this time. After all he is playing with the big boys now . . .
0Comment|One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
This is the fifteenth novel in the mystery series featuring Marcus Didius Falco, an informer and sleuth in Rome at the time of Vespasian. 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 her part to have novels that are extremely well researched and contain all the elements that would be and should be found in the Roman world of circa AD70, but to have a lead character who has the vocabulary of a present day New York cop.

After spending more time than he intended to in Britain (The Jupiter Myth) Falco is back in his beloved Rome. In theory he is still an informer for the Emperor although the less he sees of the Imperial family, the better he will like it. He becomes embroiled in a dispute between two high successful members of the legal profession and of course the dispsute ends up in a death.

Hired to prove that the senator's death was not suicide, Falco find himself following a trail of scanal, blackmail and corruption, the like of which even he has rarely seen. Has he bitten off more than he can chew this time. After all he is playing with the big boys now . . .
0Comment|One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
This is the fifteenth novel in the mystery series featuring Marcus Didius Falco, an informer and sleuth in Rome at the time of Vespasian. 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 her part to have novels that are extremely well researched and contain all the elements that would be and should be found in the Roman world of circa AD70, but to have a lead character who has the vocabulary of a present day New York cop.

After spending more time than he intended to in Britain (The Jupiter Myth) Falco is back in his beloved Rome. In theory he is still an informer for the Emperor although the less he sees of the Imperial family, the better he will like it. He becomes embroiled in a dispute between two high successful members of the legal profession and of course the dispsute ends up in a death.

Hired to prove that the senator's death was not suicide, Falco find himself following a trail of scanal, blackmail and corruption, the like of which even he has rarely seen. Has he bitten off more than he can chew this time. After all he is playing with the big boys now . . .
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on 23 March 2013
Not as good a Falco as I've read. It's basically a Roman courtroom drama a la Perry Mason (if you're old enough to remember him). It's not as fast paced as some of the others but a good insight into the workings of the Roman legal system . Once again no problems downloading and reading in Kindle
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on 25 July 2015
Do you like court-room dramas? If so, this story of the continuing career of Marcus Didius Falco, and his associates from the patrician Camilli family will appeal to you. It is about a murder disguised as suicide, with the aim of avoiding legal penalties to the deceased's estate. Bribery and corruption figure in the background, as many of the lawyers in Rome were crooked (so nothing different from today). This story is rather narrower in appeal than most of Lindsey Davis's other novels about her Roman detective, and the action is indeed mostly confined to the law courts. As I don't find this so engaging, I have given this novel only three stars in consequence.
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