A dying light in Corduba

Lindsey Davis

Book - 1998

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MYSTERY/Davis, Lindsey
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Davis, Lindsey. Falco series ; v. 8.
Falco series.
New York : Mysterious Press 1998.
Physical Description
428 p.
Main Author
Lindsey Davis (-)
Review by Booklist Reviews

The best historical mysteries combine scrupulous period detail with a modern sensibility. It's a tricky proposition: too much history detracts from the character-driven pleasures that most mystery readers crave, while a too-hip hero quickly degenerates into costume-drama absurdity. Through eight novels in her Marcus Didius Falco series, Davis has managed to walk this tightrope flawlessly. Falco, the informer-cum-sleuth who navigates the corrupt political waters of the Roman Empire with an appealing mix of integrity and self-interest, is just hip enough for the room; he wears his cynicism like a raincoat, but he won't be confused with Sam Spade at a toga party. This time out, Falco investigates the beating of Anacrites, Rome's chief of spies. The trail takes him to Baetica (in Roman Spain), where powerful olive-oil producers may be tampering with free trade. Meanwhile, Falco's lover, Helena, is about to give birth to their first child. Fascinating details about the olive-oil market lubricate the plot nicely, while Falco and Helena's bantering about the baby-to-be evoke Paul Reiser and Helen Hunt on Mad about You. Recommend this one not only to fans of Steven Saylor's Gordianus the Finder novels, another Roman mystery series, but also to anyone who enjoys contemporary Italian detectives, say, Michael Dibdin's Aurelio Zen or Donna Leon's Guido Brunetti, both of whom know a little something about corruption Italian style. ((Reviewed December 1, 1997)) Copyright 2000 Booklist Reviews

Review by Library Journal Reviews

In a series addition that rode the London Sunday Times best sellers list for several weeks, first-century Roman sleuth Marcus Didius Falco gets involved in deadly doings in the olive oil business. Soon he finds himself on the run, which is tough with a pregnant girlfriend in tow. Copyright 1998 Library Journal Reviews

Review by Library Journal Reviews

In this latest addition to a durable series, Marcus Didius Falco travels to the distant province of Baetica, pregnant girlfriend in tow, to investigate a possible olive oil cartel. The emphasis in this historical mystery is as much on historical as mystery, with solid detail and vivid insights that bring the ancient Roman alive. But the plotting, though leisurely, is nicely suspenseful and the ending worth the wait. Copyright 1998 Library Journal Reviews

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

In his latest engrossing case (following A Time to Depart, 1997), ancient Rome's preeminent sleuth, Marcus Didius Falco, explores political skulduggery that has a decidedly modern ring. After Chief Spy Anacrites is attacked and left for dead on the same night one of his agents is killed, Falco must untangle a knot of patrician Roman politics that winds from palace to province and encompasses economic malfeasance that might reach even to the Emperor. Under the aegis of Vespasian's Chief Clerk Laeta, Falco connects the assassins to the Society of Olive Oil Producers of Baetica. Tracing the group to Spain, Falco uncovers a plot with roots in Rome to form a cartel. The villains seem evident early, but the labyrinthine means Falco must employ to thwart them keep readers absorbed. As engaging and wryly insouciant as ever, Falco holds to his tested methodology of stirring up trouble to see what happens, while this time worrying about Helena Justina, his pregnant lover. The moments of high humor including a scrimmage among a dog, a chicken and are tempered by a sense that this is the beginning of the end for Rome and that Falco is doing all that one man can to hold off the night. Davis delivers another fast-moving narrative that makes ancient Rome feel as real as the streets of New York or L.A. (Jan.) Copyright 1998 Publishers Weekly Reviews

Review by Publisher Summary 1

In this latest Marcus Didius Falco novel, Falco, a private investigator of Rome's first century A.D., tries to solve a murder that has ties to the highly lucrative and competitive olive oil trade. By the author of Last Act in Palmyra.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

Marcus Didius Falco, a private investigator in Rome in the first century A.D., tries to solve a murder that has ties to the highly lucrative and competitive olive oil trade

Review by Publisher Summary 3

Nobody is poisoned at the dinner for the Society of Olive Oil Producers; the assassination attempt comes afterward. Falco ought to know, he is at the banquet along with some unexpected guests, including Anacrites the Chief Spy and Falco's own hostile brat of a brother-in-law, Aelianus. Right from the first, Falco eyes the entertainment - which includes a sinuous Spanish dancer scantily dressed as Diana the Huntress - with suspicion.When Anacrites is gravely wounded later that night, the only clue is a golden arrow last seen in the bow of the party dancer, a lady now on her way to Corduba, Spain. As it happens, Falco is facing fatherhood for the first time and has promised his wife to stay by her side. Caught between Scylla and Charybdis, Falco's only solution is to take the patrician Helena with him, a decision that may prove to be a colossal mistake.For as Helena and Falco track the exotic dancer through the Iberian Peninsula, they discover a slippery scandal in the olive trade, a chilling trail of murders, and a killer without a conscience...a remorseless and cunning villain much too dangerous for a man distracted by a very pregnant wife.