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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Favorite Authors: Lindsey Davis

Lindsey Davis, author of the Marcus Didius Falco mystery novels. Another brilliantly funny writer, whose novels give us a look at the way the common and not-so-common lived in the ancient Roman empire, while telling of the travails of the much put-upon Marcus trying to solve mysteries while his family, friends and the government occasionally assist him and frequently get in the way.

M Didius Falco is a former legionnaire, now
an informer, trying to turn an honest denarius in a distinctly inferior job. Private informer is Romanese for today's modern P.I. These stories move at a quick pace and the author covers a lot of ground, showing that the ancient Romans moved around a lot. In the course of the novels, Marcus, usually accompanied by his buddy Petronius Longius and assorted members of his extended family, travels to Britain, Germany, Spain, Greece and North Africa. If you go to this link at the author's website, you can pass your cursor over each book and see red dots appear showing the locales in each book. http://www.lindseydavis.co.uk/map.htm

I'm hard put to say which story is my favorite, but I'm a sucker for a good love story, and I enjoy rereading the first book,
Silver Pigs in which he meets and feuds with the beautiful Helena Justina, senator's daughter, who works her way into his heart, his bed, and eventually becomes his wife and business partner. Like Elizabeth Peters and the Amelia Peabody series, Ms. Davis has crafted a group of people that you will care about and who care about each other, although some more than others. The author wisely includes a cast of characters in the front of the book with clever and intriguing little hints about the part they will play in the tale, such as:

an architect who stepped on something nasty
a widow with a very attractive asset
a lyre player who hasn't found his muse
a mother, positively awful (and awfully positive)
a slow driver with a fast reputation
a model whose measurements are worth taking
a dancer who does curious things with snakes
a corpse in a warehouse (extremely deceased)
a blonde, beautiful and therefore not obliged to be sensible
an auctioneer who may be Falco's father, but hopes he isn't
a plumber in Pompeii (fairly honest for a plumber)
a dog who finds an interesting bone
an ox enjoying his holiday
a rather surprised donkey

Pick up any one of these books and enjoy the wit and wisdom of Marcus, and see if you can figure out whodunnit before the end.

The Silver Pigs (set in Rome and Britain) in AD 70-71.
Shadows in Bronze (set in Rome and Naples) in AD 71.
Venus in Copper (set in Rome) in AD 71.
The Iron Hand of Mars (set in Rome and Germany) in AD 71.
Poseidon's Gold (set in Rome and Capua) in AD 72.
Last Act in Palmyra (set in Rome, The Decapolis and Palmyra) in AD 72.
Time to Depart (set in Rome) in AD 72.
A Dying Light in Corduba (set in Rome and Córdoba, Spain) in AD 73.
Three Hands in the Fountain (set in Rome) in AD 73.
Two for the Lions (set in Rome and Carthage) in AD 73.
One Virgin Too Many (set in Rome) in AD 74.
Ode to a Banker (set in Rome) in AD 74.
A Body in the Bath House (set in Rome and Britain) in AD 75.
The Jupiter Myth (set in Britain) in AD 75.
The Accusers (set in Rome) in AD 75.
Scandal Takes a Holiday (set in Rome) in AD 76.
See Delphi and Die (set in Rome and various locations in Greece) in AD 76.
Saturnalia (set in Rome) at year-end.

Click on the title of this post to go to the author's webpage.

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