70 of 78 people found the following review helpful
Lindsey Davis is, of course, well known to legions of fans for her Falco detective series. Now, she has cleverly created a spin off series, with Flavia Albia, Falco's adopted daughter, as the the main character. This is very much a new series, so it does not matter whether you have read any (or all) of the Falco novels - previous characters, such as family members, are mentioned, but always with explanations as to who is who, and Flavia Albia is very much the main character in her own setting. However, if you are a fan of the Falco novels, even the location will be familiar, as Favia Albia lives in Fountain Court, where her father first lived in the first book The Silver Pigs: (Falco 1). Like her father, Flavia Albia is also an private informer, with an independent streak and a wish to succeed at her chosen profession.
Being a woman both limits Flavia Albia in her investigations and yet gives her better access to information when interviewing female clients. The author paints a vibrant picture of Rome, with all the problems and limitations women faced in everyday life. When a client of Flavia Albia's dies suddenly, her main concern is that she will no longer be paid. However, the woman's stepson is unwilling to accept the death as natural and asks her to investigate. To her surprise, Flavia Albia discovers that other, previously healthy and active people, have died suddenly and it seems a murderer is stalking the streets of Rome. Originally, Flavia Albia is warned off the case, but when it becomes apparent that a female investigator could help, she joins forces with Morellus, a vigiles investigator, and Tiberius, who works for the aedile Manlius Faustus, to track down the killer.
In this novel, Lindsey Davis weaves a historical mystery with a great plot, believable characters and a good dose of humour, to create a great new series. Flavia Albia is extremely likeable, both human and fallible, yet brave and resourceful. If you like the Falco novels then you will find much to enjoy in this new series and I hope that Flavia Albia goes on to investigate many more mysteries as I look forward to reading further adventures featuring this likeable new heroine.
33 of 37 people found the following review helpful
on 18 April 2013
Oh dear, I really, really wanted to like this novel. I own and have enjoyed all of Ms Davies's novels (well a few of the very late Falcos were a little hard work). The new main character is exactly my age. I have been really looking forward to reading this book. I have had it on pre order for months but .....
For me this book lacked things I was looking for from a hot stuff Lindsay Davies novel. I came to the table expecting a tight clever plot, humour and above all joy de vivre and I found a very tired plot (that I almost couldn't be bothered waiting for the conclusion of), an understandably (given her life experiences) bitter and tiresome leading character who had none of the charm and wit I was looking for in the daughter of Falco. There was just no bounce.
I didn't hate this book. It is well written and life in ancient Rome is beautifully brought to life in the background. I just found the story and the heroine uninteresting. I am afraid my eyes kept glassing over as I read. I kept wishing Falco would come out of the background and draw my attention.
I am so sorry Ms Davies because I really love the Silver Pigs and I was hoping that this was going to be Silver Pigs mark two. I shall keep reading Ms Davies as I am sure there will be a return to form!
16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on 9 March 2013
I've loved all the Falco books, and was dismayed to realise that the rather downbeat Nemesis was likely to be his last investigation. Now, some years later in the unhappy reign of the Emperor Domitian, his adopted daughter, Flavia Albia, has stepped into his old office in Fountain Court, and is doing quite nicely as an informer and investigator in her own right.
Albia is still in many ways the wilful child of the Falco books, but at 29 and ten years a widow, she has her head screwed on and knows what she wants and how to get it. Drawn, reluctantly on the part of her male counterparts, into the investigation of a series of sudden deaths by poison, she proves her worth and stands firmly on her own feet.
It is the detail of Roman life, the wonderfully drawn characters (even the minor ones) who come right off the page, and the sometimes wicked humour, that make this book, and the Falco books, such a delight to read. We may not meet Falco directly here, but his presence is still very much felt I love the way the story is told in modern English and I do not find this detracts from the historical feel.
There is romance here, if rather hasty and possibly ill-judged, Albia is very human; pathos, in the horrible fate of the foxes sacrificed to Ceres which upsets her enough to take matters into her own hands; love of family - even for her obnoxious younger adopted brother Postumus (of whom I'm sure we will hear more); loyalty and determination.
Tiberius, the runner for the aedile, Andronicus the charmer, Ronan the door keeper, Junillus her deaf cousin, Robigo the fox - too many vibrant characters to name but they all fit perfectly into the story.
It is true that Albia's Rome is not Falco's Rome; this is a feminine take on life in the city and adds a new dimension to our understanding of what life might have been like.
I did guess the murderer early on, and also the other puzzle in the book, but loved every minute of Albia's investigation. Hope this will be the start of another great series.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
I love Davis's writing about Rome and have followed Falco since the start. I really wondered how Davis was going to steer Falco through the reign of Domitian given the history between them. Lo and behold; Falco - `The Next Generation' is the inspired result.
Set around a dozen years on from the story covered by Nemesis, `Ides of April' initially took a while to get going as Davis filled in some of the gaps created by the leap forward in time. The Falco series, rather like Michael Clynes' series about the incorrigible Elizabethan rogue Roger Shallot, was told as the reminiscences of someone in old age of their younger exploits. By a third of the way through the novel you can breathe a sigh of relief as you find that all the major characters from the Falco series are alive and well, if keeping their heads down to avoid being chopped by the unstable Domitian.
This is Davis at her best. The story flows well, the narrative description of Rome and its people are vivid and three dimensional and it is a wonderfully plotted book full of humour and irony. Davis has also done well to avoid miring Falco senior into the series too early. This young lady is an able detective in her own right, albeit with illustrious adoptive forebears and I'm sure that she'll build up an impressive casebook of her own to rival that of `Pa' and leave him for the time being managing grandpa Geminus's dodgy antiques business.
I did have this on pre-order from when it was first placed in the catalogue, for me Davis can do little wrong in this genre; generally I know I'm going to be royally entertained, have a few laughs and a good mystery to boot. I'm really pleased I got the opportunity to read it before it officially hit the stands.
This is the first book in the new (sub)series by Lindsey Davis, which features Flavia Albia, daughter of Falco (the protagonist of the main Falco series by Davis). I picked up the second book in this Flavia Albia series, Enemies at Home, and read it before I went back and read this one. Oddly enough, I think if I had read this first book in the series previous to reading the second one, I may well not have gone on to read any more, because I did not enjoy this first book quite as much as I enjoyed the second.
In the first half of the book, Flavia Albia comes across as someone with a chip on her shoulder as big as the Colosseum, and it became rather irritating after a while, when she kept dismissing everyone she came across as either beneath her notice or a lying hypocrite. Happily, the second half of the book came across much better; the plot of the story picked up, and the characters as a whole in the story became much more interesting.
Flavia Albia is an informer in Rome in the reign of Domitian, a rather unpredictable emperor on whose wrong side it was not wise to get; and the life of an informer could be rather dangerous, let alone for a woman. Luckily Flavia Albia had a good upbringing with her loyal and loving family after a rocky start in life, and she is no ordinary shrinking Roman matron. When she is asked to investigate the sudden death of one of her clients, she at first dismisses the notion that the death was anything but natural. But delving further into the underworld of Rome, she finds a number of apparently unlinked but sudden deaths. Could they have any relation to the death of her client, and what could their links be?
This story certainly picked up in the second half, and got better as it went along. On the strength of my enjoyment of the second book in the series, I will most definitely look out for the third book. Hopefully Flavia Albia continues to find more mysteries in the world of Rome in the first century AD.
"The Ides of April" by Lindsey Davis, set in Domitian's Rome, introduces Flavia Albia, who had previously been a minor character in the "Falco" series, as a detective in her own right. It follows on from the twenty excellent detective novels which Lyndsey Davis had previously set in Vespasian's Roman Empire and which featured the informer Marcus Didius Falco as the main character.
Lindsey Davis had taken the characters of the original Falco series about as far as she currently wanted to go. There is the additional issue that, during the reign of Domitian, Falco and Helena Justina would have needed to keep a very low profile indeed if they wanted to survive.
Domitian was not the most forgiving of men or merciful of rulers. If he had remembered that Marcus Didius Falco had once been his enemy, the chances of Falco and Helena joining the very long list of Romans who died during Domitian's reign would have been extremely high. So Davis has moved on to the next generation for a new round of stories.
This is a "marmite" book which some people really liked and thought a good continuation of the Falco books, but there were other people who hated it. Personally I really enjoyed the book.
Flavia Albia is Falco's adopted daughter. As "The Ides of April takes place in 89 AD, a dozen years after the last Falco book "Nemesis: (Falco 20), Flavia is a widow in her late twenties having enjoyed a happy but tragically brief marriage a few years previously. Her family are wealthy enough that she could have enjoyed a life of leisure but being very much her own woman, Albia has set up independently as an "informer" e.g. private detective, like her father before her.
The style and tone of the novel is subtly different, which is perhaps meant to represent the different "voice" of a new narrator, but I didn't find the difference to be enormous.
The book begins with the tragic death of a little boy in a genuine accident: having been hired by one of the parties to the subsequent lawsuit Flavia finds that various clients and witnesses suddenly start mysteriously dying. Flavia becomes more and more convinced that these subsequent deaths are not accidents at all, but are part of a pattern of murder. While investigating, she meets two characters from the office of one of Rome's senior magistrates, an Aedile called Manlius Faustus. One of his staff is the surly and obnoxious Tiberius, the other is the handsome and suave Andronicus. But is either man quite what he appears ?
As the death toll mounts, Albia, Andronicus and Tiberius try to catch the killer, but it becomes more and more apparent that danger is very close to home ...
This story was inspired by a real historical series of events: a historical note at the end of the book, quoting Dio Cassius's Roman History, gives the source for the actual incident. If you're interested here's a link:Dio Cassius: Roman History, Volume VIII, Books 61-70 (Loeb Classical Library No. 176), but I recommend that you read "The Ides of April" first as knowledge of what actually happened will be a spoiler.
The novel contains Lindsey Davis's usual mix of ironic humour about human relationships, generous nuggets of information about the society and politics of first century Rome, and an intriguing detective story.
The original Falco series, in chronological order, consists 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
And as mentioned, this book "The Ides of April" picks up the story again a dozen years later.
Funny, exciting, and based on a painstaking effort to re-create the world of the early Roman empire between 70 and 89 AD.
It isn't absolutely essential to read these stories in sequence, as the mysteries Falco and Albia are 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 also written novels about the two Emperors who were in power in Rome at the time these stories are set: "The Course of Honour" about Vespasian's love affair with his mistress Caenis, and "Master and God" about his son Domitian.
on 15 November 2015
I'm struggling to finish the book. It's well written and well-researched. That's why I'm still reading and will finish the book; discovering about Ancient Rome in a different way from non-fiction books is always interesting, and you can feel that the author really knows the period well. But the story itself is a bit flat (for me, anyway). The main intrigue of the book isn't captivating, and I struggle to understand why Flavia Albia, the main character, likes and dislikes some of the characters. It's not a particularly big book, but I'm slow to read it (as opposed to many very large books I've devoured in a few days). This is, of course, very subjective.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
If you buy this book thinking that it is an extension of the wonderful Falco series by Lindsey Davis, you risk some disappointment. While the period context feels similar (it's a few years after the last Falco story--circa 85AD) and the story effectively evokes the grime and hubbub of Rome, the book feels like a different genre.
The first third of the novel works slowly to establish the character of Flavia Albia, adopted daughter of the Falcos, as an independent woman working as an informer (detective). Most of this set up is done in a narrative from Albia's perspective, and that perspective often portrays the 28-year old protagonist as frivolous, cranky and more than a little man-obsessed. Little information is provided about the events that bring her up to the present (her late husband, the family's turn of fortune, etc.) The concurrent plot development--serial killer at work--is very slow in evolving and not especially compelling. When the plot finally starts to pick up some steam, there are some highly unlikely character developments that ultimately don't wash.
This wasn't a terrible book, but it was rather odd. As a successor to the Falco series, it didn't have the same crackle and pop in the dialogue or narrative; and how can you include references to the illustrious parents, Falco and Helena, without giving them at least a few lines of witty dialogue and/or role to play?
More telling for me, the lead character came across like the female protagonists in the Stephanie Plum and Amy LeDuc series--determined and resourceful, but preoccupied with wardrobe selections and potential bed partners. And in the latter context, she is not especially astute in picking winners.
I finished the novel wondering whether this might be the author's swan song. Maybe it's unfair to expect the same level of wit and tension book after book in a series, but author Davis has set a high standard for herself and for her readers over the years. So there it is.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Flavia Albia is following in her father Falco's footsteps and has become an informer in ancient Rome. At the outset of the novel, she is engaged to fight off a compensation claim relating to a little boy's death, when she finds her employer unexpectedly deceased, and a relative suspecting foul play. Soon more suspicious deaths are uncovered, and it becomes clear that the magistrates and the vigiles are trying to keep a spate of mysterious murders a secret from the general public. With the help of Andronicus and Tiberius, an archivist and a runner working for the local aedile, as well as a sympathetic investigator, they set about catching the killer loose on the Aventine.
This is Flavia Albia's first outing as the main character, and fans of Lindsey Davis's other creations, Marcus Didius Falco and his wife Helena Justina, will be eager to devour this first volume in what is promising to be a major new series, now that Falco and Helena have entered middle age and become more respectable, though I believe it will also appeal to readers who come to the series without prior introduction to Albia's family. It is an engaging, witty and irreverent romp through the streets of the Aventine in ancient Rome, which wears its historical knowledge lightly on its sleeve and has its tongue firmly placed in cheek, peppered with literary anachronisms. It is undemanding yet fun, in style comparable to Marilyn Todd's Claudia series, and I raced through the book in a matter of days, the pages turning as if by themselves. If I have one criticism, it is that the book suffers from a lack of credible alternative villains, and the mix-up over the identities is pretty transparent, yet Albia, an intelligent and astute woman, appears surprisingly dense in those respects, hence my rating it only four and a half stars.
Ever since the appearance of Marcus Didius Falco and Helena Justina in The Silver Pigs at the beginning of the 1990s, I've had a soft spot for Lindsey Davis's books of historical murder mysteries set in ancient Rome, and to me she will always be one of the pioneers of that particular genre. Some readers might find the style too flippant and scoff that the characters certainly would not have used the expressions "tarts" and "swanks" 2000 years ago, but then it does make for a refreshing change compared to other "serious" historical literature. With the new series centred around a strong female character in the person of Albia, and the promise of several recurring characters and a will they/won't they romance, I'm already looking forward to the second volume.
on 10 October 2015
I am a great fan of the Falco books and I must say it took me a long time to read this book as I was very reluctant to leave Falco behind. I therfore started to read this book with every expectation that I would dislike it (I even asked for it as a gift so I wouldn't have to waste my own money on it), however, the story, the writing and the character of Flavia Albia drew me in, and the more I read the harder it was to stop. In the end I really enjoyed the book and I'm very glad I took the leap into this new world. It's Lindsey Davis back on best form and as soon as I finished it I ordered the next book.