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Ode to a Banker (Marcus Didius Falco Series #12)

Ode to a Banker (Marcus Didius Falco Series #12)

5.0 2
by Lindsey Davis

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Ode to a Banker - A witty exploration of Roman publishing and banking available for the first time in mass market paperback.

In the long, hot Roman summer of 74 AD, Marcus Didius Falco, private informer and spare-time poet, gives a reading for his family and friends. As usual, things get out of hand. Lindsey Davis' twelfth Falco novel takes us from the


Ode to a Banker - A witty exploration of Roman publishing and banking available for the first time in mass market paperback.

In the long, hot Roman summer of 74 AD, Marcus Didius Falco, private informer and spare-time poet, gives a reading for his family and friends. As usual, things get out of hand. Lindsey Davis' twelfth Falco novel takes us from the jealousies of authorship and the mire of patronage, to the darker financial world, where default can have fatal consequences …

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Lindsay Davis brings Imperial Rome to life." – Ellis Peters

"Her witty and literate Falco novels are models of the genre." – Times

"One can only hope that Falco will be around for as long as Flashman." – Time Out

"A rollicking narrative… its award-winning author [is] in excellent form. – Frances Fyfield

When a wealthy banker is gruesomely murdered, Marcus Didius Falco must search the streets of ancient Rome to hunt down a very clever killer.
Kirkus Reviews
In his Marcus Didius Falco's 13th outing (One Virgin Too Many, 2000, etc.), something untoward happens to his toga again—not to mention what happens to Greek banker and literary patron Aurelius Chrysippus when someone jams a scroll rod up his nose and batters him to death in his library. As Mercury would have it, Chrysippus had summoned several low-interest authors and high—interest rate customers on the fatal day. Urbanus, a British playwright whose wife has inky fingers, insists he missed his appointment. Pacuvius, a hack satirist, refused Chrysippus' request to entertain the Pisarchus household. Pisarchus, who already owed Chrysippus money, wanted another favor: publish his son Philomelus' novel. Chrysippus abruptly refused, but unaccountably loaned money to dawdling historian Avienus and also supported Turius, a poet with tunics fancier than his metaphors. Avienus soon turns up dead—an unconvincing suicide, or perhaps an example of primitive overdraft protection. Vibia, Chrysippus's trophy wife, massages Falco's togaless shoulder and does Juno-knows-what with Chrysippus' grown son, Diomedes, who sports a pious alibi. Ever the family man, Falco squeezes his investigation around his domestic crises: his father's lover dies, his archenemy cozies up to his mother and his widowed sister, and his dog whelps on his toga. Falco invokes Juno in a Virgilian moment, but, in spite of Trojan horseplay with a tray of snacks, the fuss never reaches epic, or even georgic, proportions. From the body in the library to the final gathering of suspects, Davis pays tribute to Agatha Christie, who did it first and better two thousand years later.

Product Details

Random House of Canada, Limited
Publication date:
Marcus Didius Falco Series , #12
Product dimensions:
4.33(w) x 7.01(h) x 0.87(d)

Read an Excerpt

Rome: Mid July-12 August, A.D.74

"A book may be defined ...as a written (or printed) message of considerable length, meant for public circulation and recorded on materials that are light yet durable enough to afford comparatively easy portability."
Encyclopedia Britannica

"[The creditor] examines your family affairs; he meddles with your transactions. If you go forth from your chamber, he drags you along with him and carries you off; if you hide yourself inside he stands before your house and knocks at the door.

"If [the debtor] sleeps, he sees the moneylender standing at his head, an evil dream....If a friend knocks at the door he hides under the couch. Does the dog bark? He breaks out in a sweat. The interest due increases like a hare, a wild animal which the ancients believed could not stop reproducing even while it was nourishing the offspring already produced."
Basil of Caesarea


"Take your writing tablets up to our new house," suggested Helena Justina, my elegant partner in life. I was struggling against shock and physical exhaustion, acquired during a dramatic underground rescue. Publicly, the vigiles took the credit, but I was the mad volunteer who had been lowered headfirst down a shaft on ropes. It had made me a hero for about a day, and I was mentioned by name (misspelled) in the Daily Gazette. "Just sit and relax in the garden," soothed Helena, after I had rampaged about our tiny Roman apartment for several weeks. "You can supervise the bathhouse contractors."

"I can supervise them if they bother to turn up."

"Take the baby. I may come too — we have so many friends abroad nowadays, I ought to work on The Collected Letters of Helena Justina."


What — by a senator's daughter? Most are too stupid and too busy counting their jewelry. None are ever encouraged to reveal their literary skills, assuming they have them. But then, they are not supposed to live with informers either.

"Badly needed," she said briskly. "Most published letters are by smug men with nothing to say."
Was she serious? Was she privately romancing? Or was she just twisting the rope on my pulley to see when I snapped? "Ah well," I said mildly. "You sit in the shade of a pine tree with your stylus and your great thoughts, fruit. I can easily run around after our darling daughter at the same time as I'm keeping a check on a bunch of slippery builders who want to destroy our new steam room. Then I can dash off my own little odes whenever there's a pause in the screaming and stone-cutting."

Every would-be author needs solitude and tranquillity.

It would have been a wonderful way to pass the summer, escaping from the city heat to our intended new home on the Janiculan Hill — except for this: the new home was a dump; the baby had embarked on a tantrum phase; and poetry led me into a public recital, which was foolish enough. That brought me into contact with the Chrysippus organization. Anything in commerce that looks like a safe proposition may be a step on the route to grief.

Meet the Author

Lindsay Davis won the 1999 Sherlock Award for Best Comic Detective for her creation – Marcus Didius Falco.

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Ode to a Banker (Marcus Didius Falco Series #12) 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
harstan More than 1 year ago
In 74 AD informer Marcus Didius Falco (in modern terms this means he is a private investigator) believes he is a talented poet. After giving a reading of his works, an employee of Aurelius Chrysippus approaches Marcus to inform him that his master, banker and owner of a scriptorium, enjoys his poetry and wants to see it published. An elated Marcus arranges to meet with Aurelius. However, his euphoria quickly ends when Falco soon learns that Aurelius expects payment for publication. Disappointed and disgusted, Falco leaves. Not long afterward, Falco learns that someone killed Aurelius shortly after their meeting. Falco is hired to find the killer, which proves arduous because the victim made so many enemies that his anti-fan club could fill the Coliseum with SRO.

The twelfth Falco Ancient Rome mystery shows how the readers how the Romans feel about Greeks, banking, and publishing. In many ways, this entry is written tongue in cheek as Lindsey Davis satirizes publishing, banking, and detectives. Thus the audience obtains an educated, humorous and well-written who-done-it that retains a freshness not all series have when they reach the twelth plateau.

Harriet Klausner