Bibliothek BHAK & BHAS Bludenz
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Marcus Didius Falco, a Roman ‘informer’ in 70AD, is standing in the Forum one very hot day, aiming to become a classic gumshoe in the Ancient World genre of mystery fiction… At this early point in his career, he has not only to make his way in the snobbish and dangerous milieu of Vespasian’s Rome, but to overcome the prejudice amongst publishers, booksellers and readers who are wary of historical novels and off-beat settings. Our hero takes himself to Britain; there the weather is filthy, the natives are restless, the women are angry, and his mission turns into a nightmare from which he only narrowly escapes alive. Along the way he meets brutes, traitors, his mother, sellers of seedy snacks, a blonde young lady who thinks he’s wonderful, the Emperor – and Helena Justina, the very spirited daughter of senator Camillus Verus.
Shadows in Bronze
Our hero, having discovered true love, has enough to worry him even before shadowy figures glimpsed late at night and a series of fatal accidents convince Falco and the Emperor that traitors are still conspiring and must be brought to book. Mourning Helena, who seems to want to abandon him, Falco sets off on a ramble through the Roman holiday spots, acquiring a goat on the Toe of Italy and accompanied around the Bay of Naples by his best friend Petronius – a member of the official police force who has somehow won himself a reputation as a ‘respectable family man’.
Venus in Copper
Deliberately conceived as a classic private eye dilemma: Trying to forget the indignity of being bailed from jail by his mother, Falco accepts a case from nouveaux riches private clients. Meanwhile he is trying to lure Helena Justina to live with him, which may prove extremely dangerous, given the notorious instability of Roman real estate. When the man he is protecting dies (mother was right: don’t lick your plate) our hero finds himself paid off and rehired by the chief suspect. She is a "professional bride", or according to her, a nice girl who does a lot of sewing (and who owns a parrot with a curious turn of phrase). There is a closed circle of characters, all with suspicious motives; they are seedily unpleasant and their friends are worse. While investigating, Falco meets for the first time, Thalia, the exotic dancer, and Jason her sinuous pet. The clinching evidence is medical, eventually deposited with the Vestal Virgins for safety: lucky they don’t know what it is.
The Iron Hand of Mars
Two mysteries from the incomplete ‘Histories’ of Tacitus provided the ideas for the plot of Falco’s German adventure. It falls to him to end the rebellion of Civilis and Veleda, who had tried to create a united Celtic Europe. This he does in his own unusual fashion, helped by Nero’s barber (out of work since Nero’s suicide) and by a shy lad who likes talking to girls. In Falco's way stands an uppity legion, who have a notorious past in Britain, and Titus Caesar, angling after Helena. There are corpses which have vanished in the murk of the rebellion, corpses Falco finds in ditches, the ghosts of long-dead legendary corpses – and, as Falco and his offbeat party tramp the barbarian forests, they face a serious risk that they will end up dead themselves.
Most historical novelists dream of a very long series family tree that will take them from the Normans to the First World War; the Falco family just has a very wide one ... This extended tribe, originally pasted in as horrible wallpaper, finally take over our hero's life. Commissioned by his mother to exonerate his late, lively brother from a catalogue of appalling schemes, Falco first finds himself suspected of murder, then - worse - compelled to work with his father: Geminus, a favourite with readers for some strange reason. Even Helena is arrested by Petronius as she tries to assist, not realising that the Didii are beyond help. After lots of fun with an art scam and the brief chance to own his own Phidias, Falco finally assembles the money he needs to win promotion to the middle rank, yet in any tale involving his loved ones, there have to be more twists waiting to thwart him.
Last Act in Palmyra
Thalia has lost an expensively trained water-organist; then Anacrites, the devious Chief Spy, makes his most dangerous appearance, this time persuading Falco to travel to Nabataea - preceded by a friendly message that the dwellers in Petra might like to peg out the Roman adventurer for the crows. Discovering the body of a dead playwright on the High Place offers a chance to dump the official mission and look for Thalia's missing musician instead. Falco and the indomitable Helena join a seedy group of theatrical players for a jaunt around the Decapolis cities that eventually leads to Palmyra at the crossroads of the eastern and western trade routes. It would be a holiday - but for the scorpions, evangelists, perpetrators of human sacrifice, drought, plague, and constant reminders that they have a murderer in their midst. Undaunted, Falco takes up his stylus and writes the Plautian prototype for 'Hamlet' - though a donkey, a python and the threat of a riot conspire to ruin his first night.
Time to Depart
Determined to write a Police Procedural, our author belatedly discovered that the vigiles were the Fire Brigade. So this is a groundbreaking Fire Brigade Procedural: still scope to dwell on the squaddies in the station house complaining about the poor pay, the dangerous work, the abuse from the public, the disinterest of their superiors. Falco joins his best mate Petro in a desperate attempt to stop gangsters taking over Rome, forcing the intrepid pair into brothels and horrible eating houses, as they encounter waterside fleecers, Forum degenerates, bad men who want to cut out their innards and women who want worse things than that. Helena is pregnant and Falco finds a baby for her to practice on. He adopts a dog (well, Nux adopts him). His family is in trouble of various kinds, and even Lenia at the laundry has terrible plans which will end in a hot wedding; the sacrificial sheep won't be the only one who gets barbecued …
A Dying Light in Corduba
Falco attempts networking to boost his career. A disastrous night ends with a hangover and murder; he doesn't achieve even a smile from the dancing girl, then he finds himself forced to take responsibility for his desperately injured enemy, the Chief Spy Anacrites. Mere weeks before Helena is due to give birth, Falco and she set off to unravel an oily conspiracy in southern Spain. Lying in wait are tycoons with low motives, murderous women in disguise, and a slippery trail laid by the Roman equivalent of that bureaucratic nightmare, the Admin Trainee; he knows nothing, thinks he can do everything, and wants something more than is good for the Empire. Falco believes the power of the privileged may be impossible to thwart - and for devious commercial motives, even the Emperor may not welcome his attempt. Will the lamps dim and the scented bath oil run out in Rome? And will Falco keep his promise to be with Helena at the dangerous moment when their baby is born?
Three Hands in the Fountain
The first in a loosely planned trilogy in which Falco succumbs to pressure and tries to find a partner to work with: here, his best friend Petronius Longus. Petro's life is in every kind of crisis, so perhaps the last thing he needs is to join Falco in a search for the serial killer who has been dumping dismembered bodies in the aqueducts. Lacking forensic tools, hampered by administrative indifference, and dogged by the tiresome Anacrites - now championed by Falco's Ma, who thinks he's wonderful - the new partners discover unexpected tensions that may destroy their relationship; that's assuming Petro's dangerous girlfriend gangster's daughter Milvia doesn't do for him first. Or her terrible mother. As the author faces up to the task of handling a gruesome story in a sensitive manner, convention decrees that the killer is bound to attack someone we know - but who?…
Two for the Lions
Still reluctantly seeking the perfect work companion, in the central book of the 'Partners' trilogy Falco has submitted to his Ma's machinations and taken on Anacrites (moonlighting while on sick leave from the Palace). The Chief Spy is thrilled. Falco is depressed. The author is nervous. Will her readers accept a story in which Falco & Partner become hardworking government tax auditors? Will her editor allow a corpse that isn't human? Will animal lovers riot? Is there any mileage in a missing plant hunt? Will plant lovers protest? Will the Anacrites fanclub allow Falco to exact revenge? If serial killing is hard to do tastefully, what about gladiating? How to avoid the cliché of threatening little Julia with Carthaginian child sacrifice? Will the Sacred Geese of Juno survive the poisoned corn, and will they come good for our boy?…
Lindsey Davis was born and brought up in Birmingham, read English at Oxford, then joined the civil service. She first wrote romantic serials for Woman's Realm, then decided to change to writing about the Romans with The Course of Honour, the remarkable true love story of the Emperor Vespasian and his mistress Antonia Caenis, which sadly remained unpublished for the next ten years. However, the research she had done into imperial Rome inspired The Silver Pigs, the first in the Falco series about a Roman informer. The series attracted a devoted readership, and reaches its tenth anniversary with Two For The Lions in 1998.
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