Lindsey Davis

Book - 2010

When a pair of his father's associates disappear under suspicious circumstances, informer Marcus Didius Falco of A.D. 77 Rome investigates allegations of a feud involving a group of notorious freedmen, who are receiving high-level protection from corruptrulers.

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Davis, Lindsey. Falco series ; v. 20.
Falco series.
New York : Minotaur Books 2010.
1st U.S. ed
Physical Description
342 p. : ill., map ; 24 cm
Main Author
Lindsey Davis (-)
Review by Booklist Reviews

It's the summer of AD 77, and Roman "informer" (read PI) Marcus Didius Falco is going through a rough time. Shortly after the death of his infant son, he receives news that his father has died. Alas, crime waits for no man, and Falco must grapple with his grief as he investigates the suspicious disappearance of a middle-age couple who supplied statues to his father. (It seems they got on the bad side of the Claudii, a flock of sinister freedmen.) At the same time, the discovery of a mutilated corpse at a graveyard prompts rumors of a serial killer. Marcus' longtime friend and colleague Petronius helps him gather clues on the murder case, but it's not long before Anacrites, Rome's loathsome chief spy, steals it out from under them. On the domestic front, Falco is troubled by the lingering malaise of his notoriously spirited wife, Helena. Nemesis is a fitting title for this solid twentieth entry in British historian Davis' standout series, in which Falco encounters a collection of cold-blooded and bloody annoying foes.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Witty, wisecracking Roman informer Marcus Didius Falco is back (after the best-selling Alexandria), and his story just got darker: this book opens with the death of Falco's newborn son and Falco's father. Sure, Pa was a reprobate, and he left Falco a hefty inheritance. But with that inheritance comes the headache of managing it, which means (among other things) sorting out a contract regarding 111 statues Pa was jobbing for the new amphitheater. Inconveniently, the art dealer from whom Pa purchased the statues has vanished, as has his wife; seems they'd had words with the Claudii, a notorious family of freed slaves living beyond the law in the fly-infested Pontine Marshes. Meanwhile, Falco's buddy Petronius Longus is investigating a nasty murder, which sends them both into the marshlands, where they are one-upped by the Claudii and then removed from the case. Who's protecting the Claudii back in Rome, and why are Chief Spy Anacrites's two ugly bodyguards dogging Falco? VERDICT Another well-plotted Falco mystery, more emotionally complex than others, but it may unsettle some fans; yes, it's darker, and our boys push the envelope in their search for justice. Still important for lovers of historical mystery.—Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal [Page 56]. Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

After Alexandria, the first in this long-running series to make the New York Times extended best sellers list, Marcus Didius Falco deals with missing family friends, a mutilated corpse, and a serial killer in 77 C.E. Rome. Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Davis immediately engages the reader's sympathies in her fine 20th ancient Roman historical featuring informer Marcus Didius Falco (after 2009's Alexandria) with her moving depiction of the death of Falco's newborn son. When Falco seeks out his father to share the horrible news, he's stunned to learn that "Pa" has also died. While Falco is coming to terms with the double tragedy, an associate asks him to help look into the murder of Julius Modestus, an art dealer whose mutilated body was dumped in a mausoleum. Falco learns that Modestus and his wife vanished after making complaints about the difficult Claudii, freedmen who originally came from the imperial family, with whom the couple had a border dispute in the Pontine Marshes. With its tricky, suspenseful plot, this entry deserves to join its immediate predecessor on bestseller lists, though some modern-sounding prose ("Have they lawyered up?" one character asks) won't please every historical fan. (Sept.) [Page ]. Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

The much awaited latest installment in this New York Times bestselling series brings Marcus Didius Falco back to the city of Rome and its deadly, convoluted intriguesIn the high summer of A.D. 77, Roman informer Marcus Didius Falco is beset by personal problems. Newly bereaved and facing unexpected upheavals in his life, it is a relief for him to consider someone else's misfortunes. A middle-aged couple who supplied statues to his father, Geminus, have disappeared under mysterious circumstances. They had an old feud with a bunch of notorious freedmen, the Claudii, who live rough in the pestilential Pontine Marshes, terrorizing the neighborhood. When a mutilated corpse turns up near Rome, Falco and his vigiles friend Petronius investigate, even though it means traveling in the dread marshes. But just as they are making progress, the Chief Spy, Anacrites, snatches their case away from them. As his rivalry with Falco escalates, he makes false overtures of friendship, but fails to cover up the fact that the violent Claudii have acquired corrupt protection at the highest level. Making further enquiries after they have been warned off can only be dangerous—but when did that stop Falco and Petronius? Egged on by the slippery bureaucrats who hate Anacrites, the dogged friends dig deeper while a psychotic killer keeps taking more victims, and the shocking truth creeps closer and closer to home. After Alexandria, the first book in this long-running series to hit the New York Times Bestseller list, Lindsey Davis brings her beloved characters and series back to Rome in a book that brings together a number of long-running plot threads to surprising and compelling conclusions.