‘A Dying Light in Corduba’ is the 8th Falco novel by Lindsey Davis and gives us another amusing look at life in the Roman Empire through the eyes of the informer – Marcus Didius Falco.
This story was mostly based in Corduba, a town in Baetica, Spain. I normally prefer the books in the series that are based in Rome (because I enjoy all of the regular characters), but there was enough going on in this book between Falco and his heavily pregnant girlfriend Helena Justina to keep me happy.
Falco is invited by the chief clerk Laeta to attend a dinner arranged for the Society of Olive Oil producers of Baetica. After the dinner, two of the other attendees are attacked. Anacrites, the chief spy is left fighting for his life while Valentius (employed by Anacrites) is dead. So Falco needs to follow-up on their latest case to find out why they were attacked.
They were investigating the possibility of a cartel among the Olive oil producers. Olive oil is critical to most aspects of life in ancient Rome, and forcing up prices could be crippling (not much seems to have changed regarding oil in the last 2000 years). Falco needs to travel to Baetica to investigate further.
But, Helena is about to give birth to their child (after having already lost one) and doesn’t want Falco to be away when the baby is born. They decide that there is enough time for Helena to travel with him and she is happy to get away from the two over-bearing soon-to-be grandmothers.
What follows is the chaotic style of investigation that we are used to seeing from Falco, with Helena advising in the background, and both of them terrified that the baby will be born before they can get home to Rome.
The story contains the usual dose of corruption and nepotism at high levels of government, as well as bratty rich kids having fun at their parents’ expense. Eventually Falco uncovers the mystery and then has to chase after Helena who has already left for Rome.
This was another brilliant addition to the Falco story and another good dose of history buried in humour. I’m looking forward to the next book in the series – ‘Three Hands in the Fountain’.
Book Published 1996