Enemies at Home (Flavia Albia Series #2) by Lindsey Davis | Hardcover | Barnes & Noble
Enemies at Home (Flavia Albia Series #2)

Enemies at Home (Flavia Albia Series #2)

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by Lindsey Davis

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"There are rules for private informers accepting a new case. Never take on clients who cannot pay you. Never do favours for friends. Don't work with relatives. If, like me, you are a woman, keep clear of men you find attractive.

"Will I never learn?"

In Ancient Rome, the number of slaves was far greater than that of free citizens. As


"There are rules for private informers accepting a new case. Never take on clients who cannot pay you. Never do favours for friends. Don't work with relatives. If, like me, you are a woman, keep clear of men you find attractive.

"Will I never learn?"

In Ancient Rome, the number of slaves was far greater than that of free citizens. As a result, often the people Romans feared most were the "enemies at home," the slaves under their own roofs. Because of this, Roman law decreed that if the head of a household was murdered at home, and the culprit wasn't quickly discovered, his slaves—all of them, guilty or not—were presumed responsible and were put to death. Without exception.

When a couple is found dead in their own bedroom and their house burglarized, some of their household slaves know what is about to happen to them. They flee to the Temple of Ceres, which by tradition is respected as a haven for refugees. This is where Flavia Albia comes in. The authorities, under pressure from all sides, need a solution. Albia, a private informer just like her father, Marcus Didius Falco, is asked to solve the murders, in this mystery from Lindsey Davis.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Set in Rome in 89 C.E., Davis’s sequel to 2013’s The Ides of April boasts a strong female lead. Flavia Albia, the adopted daughter of Marcus Didius Falco, who starred in his own 20-book series, carries on the family tradition as an informer, the ancient Roman equivalent of a private detective. Manlius Faustus, a government official, asks Flavia to find out who strangled Valerius Aviola and Mucia Lucilla, a newlywed couple, in their apartment on the Esquiline Hill. The investigating officer has taken the easy way out by accusing some of the household’s slaves of the crime, but Faustus has his doubts. Despite violating a number of her cardinal rules (e.g., “Never take on clients who cannot pay you”), Flavia accepts the case. Diamond Dagger Award winner Davis vividly portrays the setting, “a poisoned city, where a paranoid emperor had caused often-lethal mistrust,” but she plays less than fair in her clues to the killer’s identity. (July)
Kirkus Reviews
In first-century Rome, the latest case for Flavia Albia—the daughter of veteran investigator Marcus Didius Falco who's followed him into the family business (The Ides of April, 2013)—threatens to send her into an early retirement. Flavia's attraction to aedile Tiberius Faustus, with whom she's recently worked on a case, clouds her judgment. When Faustus needs an independent detective to solve a bafflingly brutal crime that's sent ripples of fear through the city, Flavia heedlessly takes on the job. Middle-age newlyweds Valerius Aviola and Mucia Lucilia have been murdered in their bed during their second night as man and wife. Although there's clear evidence of burglary, their many slaves are automatically presumed to be guilty accomplices until proven innocent. A mass exodus of the suspects and the hasty cleaning of the murder scene put Flavia two steps behind at the very outset of her probe. Nevertheless, she sets about systematically questioning every member of the Aviola household who hasn't fled. The fear, however, runs in both directions, as slaves vastly outnumber free citizens. Tracing stolen items helps Flavia's investigation gain traction but places her in physical danger. Faustus' reappearance as a sidekick enlivens the story considerably, and things really get interesting when Flavia consults her shrewd uncles, both quick to offer advice and to call her out on her recklessness and her little deceits. Flavia's slow-moving second mystery is a solidly plotted traditional whodunit with some nice historical touches. As the heroine become more fully fleshed, her challenges become more and more interesting.

Product Details

St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
Flavia Albia Series, #2
Edition description:
First Edition
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
6.40(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.20(d)

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Read an Excerpt


Even before I started, I knew I should say no.

There are rules for private informers accepting a new case. Never take on clients who cannot pay you. Never do favors for friends. Don’t work with relatives. Think carefully about legal work. If, like me, you are a woman, keep clear of men you find attractive.

The Aviola inquiry broke every one of those rules, not least because the clients had no money, yet I took it on. Will I never learn?

*   *   *

One warm, starry June night in the city of Rome, burglars invaded a ground-floor apartment on the Esquiline Hill. A large quantity of fine domestic silverware was taken, which people assumed was the primary target. The middle-aged couple who rented the fashionable suite had married only recently, which made what happened to them more poignant. After the robbers left, their bodies were found on the marital bed, amid signs of violent struggle. Both had been strangled.

The dead couple were wealthy enough to merit an investigation, a privilege that was generally thought too good for the poor, though it was normally available to victims who had left behind influential friends, as was the case here. Inquiries were first assigned to a vigiles officer, Titianus of the Second Cohort. In fairness, Titianus was no more inept than most vigiles. He knew that two plus two made four—unless he happened to be preoccupied with watching a good cockfight, when he might inadvertently say five. But he had a decent record of arresting pickpockets in the Market of Livia. For about two hours he even thought that trying to solve a double murder was exciting. Then reality set in.

Titianus found it impossible to identify the thief or thieves. After asking around a bit, he turned his attention to the household, declaring that this must be an inside job. Inevitably his gaze fell on the owners’ freedmen and slaves. The freedmen were mature, articulate and well organized; that was how they had managed to gain their liberty and how they now bamboozled Titianus. The slaves were more vulnerable: younger and naive, or else older and plain dim. Nobody ever said any of them had threatened their master and mistress, but to a law officer in Rome any culprits were better than none and with slaves no real proof was necessary. They could be accused, tortured, prosecuted and executed on simple probability. Titianus put on a clean tunic to look good, then went and announced to his cohort tribune that he had the answer. The slaves did it.

The slaves got wind of their plight. They knew the notorious Roman law when a head of household was murdered at home. By instinct the authorities went after the wife, but that was no use if she was dead too. So unless the dead man had another obvious enemy, his slaves fell under suspicion. Whether guilty or not, they were put to death. All of them.

The good thing about such systematic capital punishment, occurring in public of course, was that it helped make other slaves, of whom there were hundreds of thousands in Rome, more well behaved. The proportion of masters to slaves was very small, so nobody wanted this big slave population to get the idea of staging a rebellion. In our city it had been decided not to dress slaves in any distinguishing way, because then they might realize the power of their own numbers.

Many owners lived in constant fear of slaves turning against them. You cannot batter loyalty into a sullen, captive foreigner and neither can you even guarantee that kindly treatment will gain their gratitude. In Rome, executing slaves who betrayed their masters was therefore extremely popular. At least it was among the slave-owning classes.

*   *   *

Terrified, and with good reason, some of the accused slaves bolted from the elegant Esquiline house and took refuge a distance away at the Temple of Ceres. By tradition, this monument on the Aventine Hill offered a haven for refugees. They could claim sanctuary, be kept safe and even hope to be fed.

In theory, the authorities fostered the great temple’s famous role as a focus of liberty and protector of the desperate. However, nobody wants to take fine ideals too far.

In a swift, panic-stricken meeting just after dawn, the issue of how to get rid of the fugitives was handed to a magistrate whose duties gave him close connections to the temple. His name was Manlius Faustus, one of that year’s plebeian aediles, and I knew him. I liked his methods. He always stayed calm.

Charged with solving the problem, Faustus solemnly agreed with the Temple of Ceres authorities that it was important to take the correct action. This situation could easily turn ugly. They wanted to avoid censure. The public were shouting for a solution, preferably bloody. The Daily Gazette had already asked for a quotable comment and was about to feature the story in its scandal section; publication would fire lurid Forum gossip. The unseen eye of the emperor was probably on the Temple. Faustus had been handed a rather hot platter here.

As this dutiful man tried to come up with ideas, he walked to a bar called the Stargazer. There, while he pondered the meager choice for breakfast, he ran into me.

Copyright © 2014 by Lindsey Davis

Meet the Author

LINDSEY DAVIS is the author of The New York Times bestselling series of historical mysteries featuring Marcus Didius Falco. She lives in London.

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