Scandal Takes a Holiday: A Marcus Didius Falco Mystery Novel
Mysterious Press, 2004 (2004)
Read an Excerpt
Reviewed by Hilary Williamson
arcus Didius Falco is on the investigative trail again in A.D. 76 - this time he's on a seaside escapade in search of the missing Infamia, a gossip columnist for '
the official mouthpiece of the government
', the Daily Gazette. The search takes Falco to Ostia, the vibrant Roman port built by Emperor Claudius at the mouth of the Tiber, '
hub of the widest trade market ever known.
' It's become a place '
where Rome gorged itself on produce.
aturally, Marcus finds plenty that's rotten on and around the wharves, and it's not all fish. There's a builders' guild with a monopoly on firefighting and a suspicious fire in which Infamia's arthritic aunt perished; pirates ('
from Cilicia, Pamphylia, Lycia. The three mobsters of the eastern seas
') with rich mansions; vigiles and naval officers on undisclosed missions; a kidnapping racket long in operation; and an appearance by Falco's absentee uncle Fulvius, '
the one nobody talks about
s usual, plenty of Falco's family and friends pop up to confuse the action - from his strong-minded, snarling sister Maia and best friend Petronius, to his self-satisfied sister Junia and her pompous husband, the penultimate bureaucrat, Gaius Baebius. Both sets of parents show up (Falco's separately and Helena's together) and Helena helps matters along by speed-reading for clues. As the action heats up, Falco cools off - he barely escapes drowning, aided surprisingly by his shady dad.
s usual, Lindsey Davis sets readers' imaginations afire with Falco's insider view of daily life in ancient Italy - including a funeral that makes even the corpse stand up and take notice. I always enjoy the author's witty asides, as in a discussion of the risks of bathhouse theft (Falco's unsalubrious solution involves his dog Nux). And Helena's brother Aelianus sets sail for Greece in
Scandal Takes a Holiday
- can we hope for an Athenian adventure in the offing?
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