Three Hands in the Fountain by Lindsey Davis
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
A long term serial killer is discovered and brought to justice in this ninth volume in the unfolding Marcus Didius Falco series – and all because Falco and his long term friend Petronius find themselves drinking wine in a dried-out fountain in Rome.
Celebrating the arrival of his daughter (as occurred at the end of the previous volume) Falco steps out of the festivities for a moment and is soon accosted by a gruesome sight in a bucket held by an employee of Rome’s water supply authority. Itself a grizzly and gruesome find, Falco is disturbed to be told that it’s not the first time something like this has been found and, indeed, it had been going on for years. Together with Petro, Falco is determined to do something about this…lest the city of Rome is infected with some disease because of a contaminated water supply.
Starting off as a private enquiry, Falco’s quest is soon caught up in the officialdom of the state, where he and Petro find themselves ‘assisting’ an ex-Consul of Rome to investigate the strange happenings. Discovering more about the city’s aqueducts than he perhaps wanted to know, Falco struggles at first to come to grips with the problem, but aided by many others – including his long-suffering partner, Helena – Falco eventually zeroes in on the source of the crime and the identity of the criminal.
As we have come to expect from Lindsey Davis, this ‘gum-shoe detective’ novel is awash with historical information which not only contributes to the overall effectiveness of the narrative but provides a realistic understanding of the kind of Rome that Falco would have lived and worked in during the reign of the Emperor Vespasian. The authenticity of the storyline is a testament to Davis’ work in research for series.
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