This is the third book in the Falco series by Lindsey Davis and we are getting to know the investigator – Marcus Didius Falco quite well.
After some difficulties working with Anacrites – the chief palace spy (Anacrites has had Falco arrested and jailed), Falco decides to return to private investigation work and immediately finds himself with an interesting job.
The Hortensius family – ex-slaves who are now extremely rich – have asked Falco to investigate Severina Zotica. She is a professional bride who has been married and widowed three times. She is now engaged to Hortensius Novus and the rest of the family want to know if she is a murderess or just unlucky.
Falco’s investigation exposes him to shady developer and landlord Appius Priscillus who makes his money exploiting the poor tenants of Rome and is trying to set up a business partnership with the Hortensuis family.
The story is full of murder, corruption and plots within plots as the seedy world of Landlords in ancient Rome is exposed.
Outside of the main story in this book, there are a number of events. Falco moves to a new apartment – with disastrous consequences. Falco receives a Turbot (a large fish prized in ancient Rome) from the emperor’s son Titus. Titus then turns up to dinner. Titus is keen for Falco to carry out another investigation for the palace. Falco’s relationship with Helena Justina (a senator’s daughter) moves forward in leaps and bounds.
This book was more humorous and easy going than the previous two, however, there was still a lot going on and a lot of information regarding freed slaves and landlords.
A fantastic read and I’m looking forward to getting into the next book in the series – ‘The Iron Hand of Mars’, especially to seeing where Falco and Helena Justina go from here.
Book Published 1991