Pandora’s Boy

"..a treat to savour and save up for a quiet evening in."


Flavia Alba and her new husband, Tiberius Manlius Faustus, are settling into married life, although he is still recovering from a dramatic lightning strike on their wedding day. The calm is interrupted when the ex-wife of Tiberius arrives with a suggestion for a project for Flavia. It concerns the death in mysterious circumstances of the young daughter of one of her friends. A mishap with a love potion has been suggested as one possible cause but that has resulted in bitter arguments in the family. Flavia Alba is reluctant to take on anything suggested by Tiberius' ex-wife whom she dislikes intensely although both she and Tiberius are intrigued. However, Flavia Alba is adamant that she will not be involved.

Shortly after, Tiberius disappears and this is blamed on his disorientation following the lightning strike. Flavia does not know where he is and out of boredom takes on the challenge of the young girl's death. This involves her mixing with the young socialites of Rome, the wealthy women as well as some decidedly shady characters. Mixed in with a séance and some witchcraft, the story leads to Flavia uncovering some very dodgy dealings.

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Lindsey Davis always serves up an entertaining mix of genuine historical background facts with a sharp and witty set of characters. Flavia continues her father's cynical approach and her turn of phrase is clever and cutting. The minor characters are cleverly drawn with a verve that allows you to recognise them in their modern day counterparts. Even the dog is true to life! The delights and the horrors of ancient Rome jump off the page, but the people have basically the same instincts and behaviours as today. I recommend reading the Dramatis Personae at the beginning after reading the book. There are some witty puns and allusions to entertain. As always with Davis' books this is a treat to savour and save up for a quiet evening in.

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