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on 19 April 2014
This is my second Flavia Albia mystery, having read the previous book shortly before this one, but otherwise being new to Lindsey Davis’ mysteries and not having read her infamous Didius Falco series as I’m sure many readers of this spin-off will have. Whilst I found the opener to the series, The Ides of April, solid and entertaining, I easily guessed the mystery and I felt the pacing was little off the boil. Not so in Enemies at Home.

Here the new series seems to have hit its stride. Flavia Albia’s first person narrative voice is just as sardonic and direct as ever, and her witty observations guide us through the new mystery she's facing - a newlywed couple murdered with their silverware stolen and their slaves under suspicion having fled into sanctuary. In contrast to The Ides of April, I didn't guess the whodunit in advance, though the eventual culprit was on my shortlist, I felt the reveal wasn't telegraphed ahead of time and this definitely kept the mystery boiling at a much hotter temperature. Albia felt much sharper on the case here too, whereas in The Ides of April I felt she missed obvious clues, and I appreciated her methodical yet entertaining approach. The pacing feels tighter too; the mystery gets going a lot quicker than it did in the first novel, and the reveal occurs later, leaving just the right amount of satisfactory aftermath for wrapping things up. Davis introduces an eclectic group of suspects each of whom are working their own angle and with their own objectives in mind, which thickens the plot and keeps the mystery going until close to the reveal.

Coming to this series having not read Falco, I can't make the comparisons that long-time fans of Falco will, but I have to say Albia is beginning to grow on me. It's not earth-shattering high literature, but nor is it meant to be. Enemies at Home is quietly clever, witty, funny, and kind of charming, and that is what makes it so very readable and entertaining. Definitely a good read.
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 20 September 2014
This is the first book by Lindsey Davis that I have read, but I shall be hunting out all her works immediately. I found this book reminiscent of Steven Saylor’s books of Rome and its mysteries, and it also features strong protagonists.

The story is set in AD 89, and the main character is an indomitable lady of around 30 years of age; Flavia Albia, the adopted daughter of Falco (who features in Lindsey Davis’ earlier series of some 20 novels) is working on her own merits as an investigator and informer (a particularly unliked character in the Roman world, whose use by the Emperor Domitian in particular led to people being ‘informed’ upon for all sorts of reasons of their own). However, Flavia Albia is an upright citizen of Rome, who seeks justice (as well as some recompense for her time and trouble). She is asked by Manlius Faustus, the local magistrate (or aedile) to assist when a group of slaves seek sanctuary at the Temple of Ceres. Their master and mistress have been killed, and according to Roman law of the time, slaves must seek to protect their owners; failure to do so renders them liable to execution. And any slave testimony is only valid if extracted under torture, so sanctuary may be their best bet to stay alive. But if they are guilty in any way, the slaves must face the full force of the law. Can Flavia Albia find out what happened at the Aviola household?

This is a great read; a great novel of Rome, and a great mystery novel; there is a strong thread of wit and humour running through the story, as well of course as the horrible circumstances of murder and the threat to the slaves of horrible execution, just because they are slaves. Flavia Albia and her family are great characters, and I look forward very much to reading more of the author’s works. I have a lot to catch up on, and I look forward to it.
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This is the second in the Flavia Alba series and I must admit I enjoyed it better than the first The Ides of April. After reading all of the Falco novels, it is I suppose difficult to acclimatise oneself to a new character and also a change of gender from male to female. Although Flavia was mentioned from time to time in the Falco novels it was not with enough regularity for the reader to become familiar with the character and personality of Falco's daughter.

The character feels more rounded in this book than the first one, or perhaps she is just becoming more familiar to the reader. However it does take the reader a while to adjust to the character of a young woman rather than the roguish and outspoken personality of her father Falco. Flavia has obviously been paying attention to her father, an investigator and informant to no less a person than the Roman Emperor himself. Carrying on the tradition of investigator is not an easy task on the dangerous streets of Rome, and Flavia Alba it should be added, does not have the wholehearted consent of her mother, Helena, who is fearful of the danger she is putting herself in. Helena is well aware of the scrapes that her husband has got himself into over the years and neither parent is over the moon at the prospect of their daughter becoming embroiled in situations of a similar nature.

Lindsey Davis could probably write these books in her sleep. That does not mean that the attention to detail is no longer there. Quite the contrary. The author is the consumate professional and quickly and efficiently sets the scene for the reader. So much so that they quickly feel part of the atmosphere that must have been Ancient Rome.

For readers of the Falco novels (I think there are twenty at the last count) this new series is a natural progression and I think will be a welcome one. For those new to author Lindsey Davis the books are certainly worth delving into, particularly if you like Steven Saylor and David Wishart.
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This is the first book by Lindsey Davis that I have read, but I shall be hunting out all her works immediately. I found this book reminiscent of Steven Saylor’s books of Rome and its mysteries, and it also features strong protagonists.

The story is set in AD 89, and the main character is an indomitable lady of around 30 years of age; Flavia Albia, the adopted daughter of Falco (who features in Lindsey Davis’ earlier series of some 20 novels) is working on her own merits as an investigator and informer (a particularly unliked character in the Roman world, whose use by the Emperor Domitian in particular led to people being ‘informed’ upon for all sorts of reasons of their own). However, Flavia Albia is an upright citizen of Rome, who seeks justice (as well as some recompense for her time and trouble). She is asked by Manlius Faustus, the local magistrate (or aedile) to assist when a group of slaves seek sanctuary at the Temple of Ceres. Their master and mistress have been killed, and according to Roman law of the time, slaves must seek to protect their owners; failure to do so renders them liable to execution. And any slave testimony is only valid if extracted under torture, so sanctuary may be their best bet to stay alive. But if they are guilty in any way, the slaves must face the full force of the law. Can Flavia Albia find out what happened at the Aviola household?

This is a great read; a great novel of Rome, and a great mystery novel; there is a strong thread of wit and humour running through the story, as well of course as the horrible circumstances of murder and the threat to the slaves of horrible execution, just because they are slaves. Flavia Albia and her family are great characters, and I look forward very much to reading more of the author’s works. I have a lot to catch up on, and I look forward to it.
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This is the first book by Lindsey Davis that I have read, but I shall be hunting out all her works immediately. I found this book reminiscent of Steven Saylor’s books of Rome and its mysteries, and it also features strong protagonists.

The story is set in AD 89, and the main character is an indomitable lady of around 30 years of age; Flavia Albia, the adopted daughter of Falco (who features in Lindsey Davis’ earlier series of some 20 novels) is working on her own merits as an investigator and informer (a particularly unliked character in the Roman world, whose use by the Emperor Domitian in particular led to people being ‘informed’ upon for all sorts of reasons of their own). However, Flavia Albia is an upright citizen of Rome, who seeks justice (as well as some recompense for her time and trouble). She is asked by Manlius Faustus, the local magistrate (or aedile) to assist when a group of slaves seek sanctuary at the Temple of Ceres. Their master and mistress have been killed, and according to Roman law of the time, slaves must seek to protect their owners; failure to do so renders them liable to execution. And any slave testimony is only valid if extracted under torture, so sanctuary may be their best bet to stay alive. But if they are guilty in any way, the slaves must face the full force of the law. Can Flavia Albia find out what happened at the Aviola household?

This is a great read; a great novel of Rome, and a great mystery novel; there is a strong thread of wit and humour running through the story, as well of course as the horrible circumstances of murder and the threat to the slaves of horrible execution, just because they are slaves. Flavia Albia and her family are great characters, and I look forward very much to reading more of the author’s works. I have a lot to catch up on, and I look forward to it.
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on 2 May 2014
As luck would have it, this book came out just after a visit to Rome during which I reread " The Ides of April" whch is the first in the new Flavia Albia series. "Enemies at Home" takes place just a few weeks after the events of the previous book, so I would recommend reading that first - although there is enough exposition in this latest book for you to read it independently.
It is excellent - well plotted and paced, with Davis' customary wealth of accurate detail and genuinely Roman atmosphere; I was gripped to the end, finishing it in the early hours and hungry for more.
This mystery deals with the nitty gritty of Roman slavery and the problems that arose from it, although in some ways it is reminiscent of those Agatha Christie type plots set in a household largely made up of servants - did the butler (or, in this case, steward) do it? It is lightened by Davis' usual humour, but she does not shy away from the very harsh realities - and indeed horrors - of Roman slavery.
Flavia Albia's distinctive voice is now well established; a very intelligent and likeable young woman striving against the odds for a degree of personal independence and autonomy. (An added bonus for us is that being a native Briton she is able to comment as an outsider on some of the oddities of the Romans which wouldn't occur to Falco.) Moreover the will they/won't they romantic element is now very definitely in place. I eagerly await the next one in the series.
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on 25 April 2014
I hope this will be the second of many more, as some other reviewers have said. I've read all 20 of the Falco novels, and enjoyed them all - well nearly all: not Nemesis the last one. But now I'm getting a lot more from Fabia Albia. I feel much more involved with her as a character, and I was delighted to find at the start of the second book that Tiberius would be a prominent character again. The ending blew me away - as indeed did the ending of The Ides of April, which I had to read twice because of it. Lindsey Davis seems to have the knack of keeping something back that you don't expect. I agree with reviewers who say they'd like to see more interaction with earlier characters from the Falco novels; yes, I'd like her discussing some of her cases with her father, for example. I was glad the two uncles came into this book, but I agree that Helena should appear much more in future - she's always been my favourite character.
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on 20 August 2014
So very, very disappointing. This book is SLOW and in Albia Davis has developed a character who is sadly as dim as many of the people she purports to investigate. As in the Ides of April Albia misses several obvious points and grossly endangers herself.
Davis is unable to resolve the basic problem, apparent in Ides too, which is that an investigator who cannot be active, cannot involve herself in several key scenes and is unable to wield any physical menace will be an investigator who is never going to hold your attention as you read about her. An additional irritant to the reader familiar with Falco are the glimpses of the already established cast. In this book Justinus makes a promising appearance but is then (almost literally smothered). His older brother too dances on the fringe of the action before disappearing. Doubtless because Davis knows that these are two characters she drew well and are massively to be preferred to their substitutes in this generation. Helena Justina too has a walk on part which aggravates rather than enriches. Davis has a massive basic problem with the series - the characters she has - Albia and Faustus - are a poor substitute for Falco and Helena. The latter dancing just out sight is a major frustration. As is Davis' woeful tendency to think she is being clever in what she reveals or conceals. So now we know what befell Larius and Gaius but Camillus Verus, Julia Justa, Junilla Tacita and a host of others remain 'up the authors sleeve' for her to trade on the reader's sympathies when she chooses. And enough already with the fate of Lentullus. We know he's dead, Albia harped on in the last book quite enough about the 'accident' that took him. We simply don't care enough for this mystery to be anything other than an aggravation.
There are some lovely glimpses of Rome in this book. I found the characters of the leatherworking due and the lamented steward in particular to be interesting but overall it is a massively tedious wallow from an author who was capable of so much more. Plot has never been Davis' strongpoint as any established reader will know but character always was and it's a talent which has deserted here in this work. The cast of slaves are a dreary crew - even the tragic are merely tiresome - and too many of the other cast are simply cardboard add ons.
I really wanted to love this book. Having re-read the Iron Hand of Mars before starting this I can safely say though that there is no comparison between this generation and the former. With regret I will abandon Albia to make more dim and dangerous mistakes and seek refuge in re-reading Falco.
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on 7 December 2014
Flavia Albia is a worthy successor to her adoptive father (whose creator was I think getting a bit weary of him - but we are not yet allowed to see him in his older incarnation, though we do meet Helena Justina briefly, and encounter her brothers), and her take on life in Rome is necessarily somewhat different from his. This one sets out to make us aware of its slave population, what their masters felt about them, and how they felt about their situation, and how they behaved - as variously as their various characters. At one point I thought it was about to flag and then several exciting things happened one on top of the other. Her relationship with Manlius Faustus continues to tantalise. I'm now on my fourth re-reading, so I must like it.
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on 24 August 2015
People are taking these books far too seriously. Basically Didius Falco was Sam Spade, Flavia Albia is V I Warshawski and they walk the mean streets of ancient Rome with questionable methods, dodgy morals and a heart as big as an ocean beating beneath a hard boiled exterior. If this was 1980 I'd be envisioning Theresa Russell as Albia. She's tough, sassy and obviously gorgeous. I'm not sure how much more tease is to be had before she gets down and dirty with the manly Manlius Faustus. They clearly fancy the pants off each other (or whatever the appropriate Roman garment is).

Enjoyable, easy going mysteries against a backdrop of Rome as it probably never quite was, but perhaps should have been.
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