Two For The Lions: by Lindsey Davis
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Our hero, Marcus Didius Falco, and his long-suffering partner, Helena Justina, find themselves thrust into the troublesome and tumultuous world of the Games…and all by accident.
Having taken on a partner, Falco now finds himself in ‘reputable’ employment as a quasi-state official undertaking audits of the Census – a census that wasn’t about counting the citizenry but of working out the basis on which they could be taxed. It is the midst of one of these audits, of a proprietor of one of Rome’s gladiatorial games, that there unfolds a series of mysterious events, events that involve the death of a lion, the release of a leopard, and the murder of a gladiator. Never able to resist a mystery, Falco attempts to get to the bottom of the mystery, much to the annoyance of his partner (Falco doesn’t care) and risk to his new job (Helena does worry).
This mystery doesn’t go smoothly for Falco and the ultimate resolution of it is quite surprising. In the end, it is only by travelling to overseas provinces of the Roman Empire that a solution presents itself. In the meantime, we learn more of the world in which Falco lives, from the Sacred Geese of Rome, to the nature of the Games, to the wilds of Proconsular Africa.
As always, the authenticity and historicity of the setting of the novel created by Lindsey Davis provide a wonderful background for an engaging and intriguing narrative. We continue to learn more about the regular characters we encounter from novel to novel, and they are now well-known friends more than mere characters on a page.
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