Three hands in the fountain

Lindsey Davis

Book - 1999

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MYSTERY/Davis, Lindsey
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Series
Davis, Lindsey. Falco series ; v. 9.
Falco series.
Subjects
Published
New York : Mysterious Press 1999, c1996.
Edition
1st U.S. ed
Language
English
Physical Description
351 p.
ISBN
0892966912
Main Author
Lindsey Davis (-)
Review by Booklist Reviews

/*Starred Review*/ It's 73 A.D. and Rome is ruled by the Emperor Vespasian. Freelance investigator Marcus Didius Falco and his pal Petronius Longus are lounging by a fountain enjoying a flagon of wine when, to their horror, they discover a bloated and decayed human hand in the fountain. The hand has obviously been there for months, but another hand--one that has been hacked from its owner's wrist much more recently--soon turns up in a nearby aqueduct. Fearful the killer may be trying to pollute Rome's water supply, Falco and Petronius team up to crack the case. Hampered by disbelieving officials, a bureaucracy that thwarts them at every turn, family difficulties, a frustrating absence of concrete clues, and relatives who scoff at their motives, the two manage to overcome considerable odds and nab the murderer. As readers follow the sometimes hilarious antics of Falco and Petronius (who are talented sleuths despite moments of buffoonery), they'll feel as if they've been transported back to the first century A.D., so realistic are the historical details in Davis' book, the tenth in this celebrated series. Filled with scintillating suspense, laugh-out-loud humor, devilishly clever plotting, and a cast of wonderfully eccentric characters, number 10 is among the best. See also Steven Saylor's Rubicon, reviewed on p.1484, the latest in another popular series set in ancient Rome. ((Reviewed April 15, 1999)) Copyright 2000 Booklist Reviews

Review by Library Journal Reviews

In Davis's latest mystery featuring Marcus Didius Falco, the Roman gumshoe teams with old friend Petronius Longus to discover who is assaulting and murdering young women during festival time and then tossing their chopped-up remains into the city's reservoirs. Slow to start but with the usual good historical detail and ironic wit; necessary where historicals are popular. Copyright 1999 Library Journal Reviews

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Secret-agent/sleuth Marcus Didius Falco (A Dying Light in Cordoba, etc.) returns with gusto for another case of mystery and intrigue this time involving a serial killer in ancient Rome. As the novel opens, Falco has just come back from a perilous mission to Baetican Spain and is ready to tackle his new role as father to his first-born daughter. But his commitment to paternal responsibilities begins to lag when he and his old friend, Petronius Longus, make a gory discovery of a severed human hand in one of Rome's many fountains. As the inquisitive buddies do some reconnaissance work, encountering similar body parts in the Roman water supply, they learn that there is, in fact, a tradition of corpses circulating in the waterworks. Furthermore, these dead bodies often appear after public festivals. The threat of contaminated aqueducts coupled with the imminent Roman Games brings Falco and Petro to confront the authorities on the matter. Official desire to keep the problem under wraps forces the pair to determine the killer's identity on their own, with the help of Helena (Falco's wife), Anacrites (a spy and boarder in Falco's mother's home) and other toga-wearing tipsters. Once again, Davis weaves an intricate, irreverent plot filled with wittily imagined characters. (Apr.) Copyright 1999 Publishers Weekly Reviews

Review by School Library Journal Reviews

YA-Set in first-century Rome, this fast-paced mystery is narrated by a cynical, hard-boiled hero with an imperfectly concealed soft spot for his family. Marcus Didius Falco is back in Rome after an extended trip to Spain. His mother is trying to get him to take on a new partner: his enemy, the former Chief Spy, Anacrites. Falco's friend Petronius Longus is on suspension and in danger of becoming an ex-vigile now that his wife has reported his affair with a married woman who has ties to organized crime. Falco is able to dodge Anacrites by taking Petro on as a partner, but their lives become complicated after they discover a decomposed hand in a fountain. More body parts turn up in the water supply, and it soon becomes clear that someone has been murdering and dismembering women at major festivals for years. The authorities have tried to cover it up to prevent a riot over contaminated water, but now Falco has been given the task of finding the killer before he strikes again. Davis vividly describes life during the period, but the story is never overwhelmed by historical detail. Although the book can stand alone, fans of Falco and his wife Helena will be delighted to encounter familiar characters, from Falco's many sisters and disreputable brothers-in-law to Helena's supposedly more refined aristocratic relations. A riveting, suspenseful, witty read with lots of historical flavor.-Susan Salpini, Purcellville Library, VA Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

A new mystery for Marcus Didius finds the first century Roman seeking a serial killer who keeps leaving the body parts of his murdered victims in the city's water system after festivals. 15,000 first printing.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

First-century Roman sleuth Marcus Didius Falco seeks a serial killer who keeps leaving the body parts of his murdered victims in the city's water system after festivals

Review by Publisher Summary 3

In vino, veritas. But in the water supply of Rome, horroras Marcus Didius Falco is about to find out. Sharing an ewer of Spanish red with his old friend and new partner Petronius Longus, Falco is on the spot when a man cleaning the local fountain makes a gruesome discovery: a human hand.Small and evidently female, the hand suggests its owner met a terrifying fate. Naturally, Falco and Petro, formerly of the Vigiles, want to seize on it as their first big case. The officials of Rome, however, prefer to hush up the incident, since a population that riots at the drop of a toga might run wild if body parts are polluting their drinking water.Soon other delicate, dismembered hands are being found in Rome's two hundred miles of aqueduct. Now aided, inspired, and given critical clues by his wife, Helena, Falco & Partner are ready to buck the status quo and even butt heads with Falco's old boss, Chief Spy Anacrites, to crack the case.But O, Hades! The duo suspects a serial killer is at large, linked to public festivals, and likely to strike again at the upcoming Roman Games. Even a detective as astute as Falco may not spot a twisted mind in a crowd of 250,000. And if Falco loses this race with time, another pretty victim will make a deadly splash...

Review by Publisher Summary 4

In vino, veritas. But in the water supply of Rome, horroras Marcus Didius Falco is about to find out. Sharing an ewer of Spanish red with his old friend and new partner Petronius Longus, Falco is on the spot when a man cleaning the local fountain makes a gruesome discovery: a human hand. Small and evidently female, the hand suggests its owner met a terrifying fate. Naturally, Falco and Petro, formerly of the Vigiles, want to seize on it as their first big case. The officials of Rome, however, prefer to hush up the incident, since a population that riots at the drop of a toga might run wild if body parts are polluting their drinking water. Soon other delicate, dismembered hands are being found in Rome's two hundred miles of aqueduct. Now aided, inspired, and given critical clues by his wife, Helena, Falco & Partner are ready to buck the status quo and even butt heads with Falco's old boss, Chief Spy Anacrites, to crack the case. But O, Hades! The duo suspects a serial killer is at large, linked topublic festivals, and likely to strike again at the upcoming Roman Games. Even a detective as astute as Falco may not spot a twisted mind in a crowd of 250,000. And if Falco loses this race with time, another pretty victim will make a deadly splash...