Ode to a Banker
Century, 2000 (2000)
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Reviewed by Hilary Williamson
welfth in Davis' hilarious series about Roman informer Marcus Didius Falco and his horde of relatives. He continues his own literary career with a very public poetry reading and soon afterwards is embroiled in an investigation of the nasty murder of the seedy publisher who introduced it.
he wealthy Athenian banker and publisher Chrysippus was disliked by his authors, but was it enough for one of them to jam a wooden scroll case up his nose before finishing him off and vandalizing the library? Was it the new and very common young wife, the discarded ex or the business manager who had most to gain? Falco's only clue is the nettle pie that the killer munched while departing the scene.
avis pokes lots of fun at the literary establishment, the poor taste of publishers, the tardiness of writers and the slim hopes of the wannabe writers' group, as Falco follows clues with help from his usual cohorts - his wife Helena and best friend Petronius. And the heavy they encounter this time is indeed a heavyweight!
alco ambles around the noxious Roman streets collecting clues at a relaxed pace in the summer heat until the imminent departure of key witnesses gives urgency to resolution of the case. For this, Davis borrows from the future to give a classic Nero Wolfe style denouement, complete with suspects, witnesses, refreshments and surprises.
s good as always and the author has opened up a couple more interesting areas of Roman society (banking and publishing) as well as making some progress in the romantic intrigues of Falco's mother and sister. My only complaint is that Helen is becoming two dimensional, relegated to the role of mother and sidekick ... but at least she had a chance to read a good book in this episode!
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