ONE VIRGIN TOO MANY is the 11th novel in the Falco series by Lindsey Davis which features Marcus Didius Falco, an informer in ancient Rome.
After Falco and Helena’s adventures in Africa in the previous novel, Falco has been promoted to Equestrian status by Emperor Vespasian and given the job of Procurator of the Sacred Poultry – he is now responsible for the sacred geese which symbolically guard the city of Rome. But the geese are not the only ancient ritual we come across in this novel – there are the many religious cults that existed in Rome in AD 70.
One of the Vestal Virgins is about to retire after her 30 years of service, so a new one is to be selected from the young girls of the city. One of the candidates is 6 year old Gaia, from a family that includes among its members an ex-priest and an ex-Vestal Virgin. But before the supposedly random drawing of the name, Gaia seeks Falco’s help. She believes someone in her family wants her dead. Then she goes missing.
Meanwhile one of Helena’s brothers Aelianus has been trying to join an ancient cult, the Arval Brotherhood (without much success). At one of their gatherings he stumbles upon a dead body. The cult members are doing their best to hide the murder of one of their members. But Falco and Aelianus continue to investigate.
Between investigating a murder and searching for a missing child, Falco must also make arrangements for his sister Maia’s future after the death of her husband in the previous book. Helena also has a surprise for Falco which everyone but Falco knows about.
This was one of the best novels in the series so far with plenty of humour surrounding the serious events and a detailed but cynical look at many of the rituals of ancient Rome.
As usual Falco and Helena were brilliant. We got to see a better side of Aelianus who has been a bit serious in previous novels. I also enjoyed seeing a bit more of Petro.
I’m looking forward to continuing the series with – ODE TO A BANKER.