My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Intrigue, murder, mischief and personal dramas all confront our eponymous hero in this second volume of the Marcus Didius Falco Mysteries. It picks up immediately after the first and our hero, Falco, finds himself working as a semi-Imperial agent tracking down conspirators against the reigning Caesar. In locations both inside and outside the City of Rome, Falco slowly unravels the mystery, but not without a few missteps and unexpected twists along the way. Ultimately successful, Falco confronts his target and emerges triumphant.
At a personal level, Falco attempts to define and solidify his relationship with the woman he loves, Helena Justina. That Helena is the daughter of a Senator and therefore literally out of Falco’s class means nothing, particularly given Helena’s own very independent streak. Through a few ups and downs, by the end of this volume, there is at least some certainty for both of them.
The combination of narrative and setting by Lindsey Davis is superb, rich and engaging. The task of an informer in the Roman Empire, whether working privately or as an Imperial agent is shown in its complexity. The ongoing development of the characters, particularly Falco himself, reveals flawed but likeable characters who, regardless of where they find themselves in the social strata of the Roman Empire, are simply trying to work and live.
Very highly recommended.
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