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4.7 out of 5 stars
185
Enemies at Home: Flavia Albia 2 (Falco: The New Generation)
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TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 21 May 2016
I read the first book in this series because I have long been a fan of the Falco series. I have to say that I was slightly disappointed so I am very glad that I decided to give the series another chance and read this novel which takes place very shortly after the end of the previous one. I enjoyed it more and will definitely be reading the next couple in the series.

Manlius Faustus, who we met in book one (not required reading to understand this one) asks Flavia Albia to investigate after a newlywed couple are strangled and valuable silver they own disappears. Without an investigation and the discovery of the culprits Faustus will be obliged to put the household slaves to death for not having prevented the crime even if they didn't commit it. What follows is an investigation into the crime which is interesting, the developing love story between the two main characters which is tender and life affirming, and a description of the state of slavery in Rome which is interesting and enlightening. The author is not sparing in her description of what happens to those at the bottom of society and Flavia Albia isn't going to change society as a whole. Some of the characters will come to sad and undeserved ends, and we know that this is what lies in the future for others.

Although our heroine has a witty and sarcastic narrative style this isn't really a funny book although there are moments of humour throughout. I thought that the author melded the different strands together well and if Flavia Albia is perhaps too liberated for her time she makes an engaging heroine. I enjoyed the investigation and was informed by the information about slavery and prostitution at the time but I was mostly moved by the love story - the last few pages are beautifully written.
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on 1 June 2014
Flavia Albia returns for her second adventure. This time the meiosis and tapinosis of her vernacular has gone, to be replaced with a more wry, intelligent assessment of her Roman city folk. Which is a vast improvement on her introduction in “The Ides of April” where the novel suffers so much from a caustic tone that I very nearly didn’t read this sequel. I am glad I did pick this up because it is much more Falco-like, the mystery is confusingly brilliant, the wit has just that right blend of acerbity and tongue-in-cheek humour that had us scrambling to buy the next Falco novel.
The novel opens fairly swiftly with a triple murder on the Esquiline. It looks like a robbery gone wrong, what with the disappearance of a fine haul of silverware but there’s something nagging Albia about the deaths of Valerius Aviola, his new bride Mucia Lucilia, and a door porter named Nicostratus. The former have been strangled, the latter bashed in with a plank. In the interim a fair few of the suspects – a gaggle of terrified household slaves - have taken refuge in the sanctum of the Aventine’s Temple of Ceres. The case has been tasked to Titianus, vigile of the Second Cohort but Albia finds her simmering love possibility of Tiberius Manlius Faustus – plebeian aedile – asking her to investigate, setting up her up in the guest-room of the Aviola’s house and lending her his sixteen year old slave Dromo to provide daily reports. All of which is really an excuse for him to spend time with her.
Albia drags in some family help in the form of her two uncles: Aulus and Quintus. The latter who advises that “’Remember the proverbial answer – the cup bearer did it.’” Not quite true in this case, but it means the author can bind the reader tightly to the nostalgia of Falco (Helena Justina even makes an appearance at the dysenteric dénouement), a familiarity that makes us even more comfortable with the story.
The novel then plunges into an intellectual sleuthing. Albia embarks on conducting aural investigations, visiting trustees, wading through the complex relationships that comprise a Roman household, dangerously intercepting hardened gang members in dodgy pubs, visiting baths to glean information, and having drunken female soirees. All of which draws an almighty blank until a dog lead finally points us in the right direction. Not before another murder and an unfortunate suicide have occurred.
The suspects far outnumber the rest of the cast. Headed by Polycarpus - the household steward – and his wife Graecina there is also the elderly Amethystus – general worker; youthful Daphnus – attendant; Phaedrus, a door porter who loathes his door colleague Nicostratus primarily because they both are in lust with Amaranta, the luscious personal attendant to Mucia Lucilia; the philosopher Chrysodorus, Daphnus’ brother Melander who is a scribe; the virginal and naïve Olympe – terribly flute player; Diomedes who is a gardener who needs to be put out to pasture; the hugely pregnant (she gives birth during the novel) and utterly horrible Myla and, finally, Libycus – the personal attendant to the now dead Valerius Aviola. There are some assorted other characters associated with Aviola’s previous wife, Galla Simplica, and a few tenants in the houses next door to the murder scene. All of these add up to a list of possible suspects so long the action of novel is concerned with discerning motive and alibi rather than racing around Rome.
Albia can sniff out a conspiracy of silence, the problem is no one’s prepared to say anything because the slaves all know the fate that will befall them.
The novel has some modern concepts that don’t particularly sit well in ancient Rome; references, for instance to a “take-out waiter (who would be annoyed because he lost his tip).” or use of the terms “mezzanine”, “doily”, “squaddies”, and “witches”. There are also some spelling errors: “had had a”, “signifi-cant”, “deserts”, “perman-ent”. Most amusingly, there are several references to faecal matter as “pooh.” – I am sure A. A. Milne might be equally pleased his favourite bear makes an appearance in Rome, yet irritated at the means by which he does so.
This is a fine sequel by Lindsey Davis and any Falco fan should pick this one up. Forget the first, it’s terrible, but this gives hope that the ‘Falco Next Generation’. The novel is, as Albia realises:
“at its heart a genuine tragedy. It mattered that I should name whoever burst into Mucia Lucilia’s bedroom, killed her man and put that rope around her neck. It mattered too, that if people should have helped her, I should identify them too.”
Yes indeed. It matters also, that we readers, follow her on this mystery.
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on 30 August 2016
Flavia Albia returns, to investigate for Manlius Faustus a case of double murder. In this story we get an intimate look at how a wealthy household operates, the tensions and the dynamics of family and the master-slave relationship. I guessed the solution about two-thirds in, I probably read and watch too many murder mysteries to be surprised often, but I was still gripped by the story and characters regardless. Flavia and the supporting cast are multi-layered people, with complicated motivations for their feelings and actions, and the Roman setting is as well described and immersive as I have come to expect from Davis, who is a true master of her craft.
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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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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 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 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 9 April 2016
I really enjoy these books. I usually get the hardback from my library when it is first published but I still buy the the kindle version once the paperback is published and the price drops a bit. I spend good money on a book I have already read because I enjoy it enough to read it again.

I read and loved all the Falco books too and yes this spin off series is darker in tone than those. No Falco and Helena are not seen much but then these books are about Flavia Albia. I really like the dark humour in these books, it does seem to suit the darker times bring portrayed in Rome.
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on 24 November 2015
Loved it. I didn't even read ahead to who the killer was. This is looks into the world of slaves in Rome when a group of slaves are being investigated for the murder of the owners. Not the Killing but because they as slaves should have prevented it or gone to their owners aid. The punishment for this is death. The story moves ahead with the relationship between Albia and the Adeile. It surely looks unlikely as they are from different spheres but then that is what I thought about Falco and Helena. Lindsey Davis has written a good book where Albia is grateful that she doesnt own slaves in the end.
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on 10 August 2017
I read the original series, introduced by my Mother in Law who love " who done it books". I got hooked so was delighted to find the new Roman detective. I feel that I am learning more every time about Rome and their disgusting civilisation. I never like them, but I love the characters who could be any where and it is always goid
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