‘Poseidon’s Gold is the 5th installment in Lindsay Davis’s Falco series. It didn’t take me long reading this one to be reminded of just how amusing these books are. How did I ever forget?
In the previous book – ‘The Iron Hand of Mars’, Marcus Didius Falco and his girlfriend Helena Justina were in Germania Liberia, so at the start of this book they are returning to Rome. The weather is cold and wet, so Rome looks and smells worse than usual, and after months away, Falco’s flat is uninhabitable.
On arrival at Falco’s mother’s house (where they are seeking temporary accommodation), they discover a colleague of Falco’s long dead brother (Festus) has moved in to take advantage of the family’s hospitality.
Somehow, while away with the army, Festus managed to set up a number of lucrative, semi-legal business ventures. In most of these ventures, Festus was working with their father – Geminus, an auctioneer by trade. A ship carrying a Phidias Poseidon statue from Greece sank (a common occurrence in those days). Now Festus’s colleagues who helped fund the venture want their money back and the client who had already paid for the statue is taking revenge on Geminus.
When Festus’s colleague is found murdered, Falco is the immediate suspect and it is only through luck and the intervention of his Praetorian Guard friend – Petronius Longus, that Falco is allowed a few days of freedom in which to investigate what happened and to try to clear his name.
The investigation is typical of Falco (completely disorganised and involving lots of alcohol and violence). Falco must team up with his estranged father Geminus and also spend time around the seedy world of Rome’s artists.
Throughout the story, even though there doesn’t appear to be much hope for Falco, Helena Justina is by his side.
This book was brilliant and incredibly funny, with some excellent insights into Roman art and politics. I can’t wait to read the next in the series – ‘Last Act in Palmyra’.
Book Published 1993