"… familiar and highly entertaining stuff."


It is Rome during the reign of the Emperor Vespasian and it is the holiday of Saturnalia when the normal rules are abandoned and parties and feasting are the order of the day. Marcus Didius Falco and his family are no exception to the rule and are in the midst of preparation for many entertainments involving all their relations. Marcus' wife, Helena Justina, shows her usual aplomb when a number of soldiers are billeted with them in order to assist Marcus in his latest task to find a missing German captive.

It is vital that she is found as her presence at large could embarrass the government and put Marcus' fee at risk. Many complications arise as this Veleda has connections with Helena's brother. In the end it is, as always, sorted out satisfactorily.

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This is another fast moving and witty tale of intrigue in Rome. Marcus Didius Falco is maturing and, as a happily married man, should be settling down. He is still, however, prepared to be rash and inventive in his pursuit of the truth. Falco's wife, Helena, brings a modicum of sense but is an able and courageous ally in his task. The many members of their extended family are often both exasperating and amusing. Picking up this book is like receiving a long letter from a friend who tells you the latest news. It is both familiar and highly entertaining stuff. The quick laconic wit of Falco contributes to the enjoyment of the book. Falco has his own individual style of speech and uses some “new “ words to explain his feelings. I agree with Lindsay Davis' notes that this is a perfectly acceptable device, which adds to the development of Falco's character.

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