Saturnalia: (Falco 18) by Lindsey Davis | Paperback | Barnes & Noble
Saturnalia (Marcus Didius Falco Series #18)

Saturnalia (Marcus Didius Falco Series #18)

4.8 7
by Lindsey Davis

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“One of the best historical series...wisecracking humor, scathing social commentary, and rollicking adventure.”—Detroit Free Press

When in rome, death takes no holiday…

It’s 76 A.D. during the reign of Vespasian and the Roman festival of Saturnalia is getting underway. The days are short; the nights are


“One of the best historical series...wisecracking humor, scathing social commentary, and rollicking adventure.”—Detroit Free Press

When in rome, death takes no holiday…

It’s 76 A.D. during the reign of Vespasian and the Roman festival of Saturnalia is getting underway. The days are short; the nights are for wild parties. But not for “informer” Marcus Didius Falco. His job is to uncover unwelcome truths and deal with sensitive situations, frequently at the behest of the imperial government. So when a general’s famous female conquest escapes from house arrest—leaving a horrendous murder in her wake—Falco is on the case. If finding a fugitive isn’t enough of a Zeus-like headache, Falco’s wife Helena Justina’s brother has also gone missing. Against the riotous backdrop of the season of misrule and merriment, the search seems impossible. And Falco seems to be the only one who notices that some dark agency is bringing death to the city streets…

“Davis has mastered the art of …blending humor with history.”—Philadelphia Inquirer

“Davis serves up a huge cast of characters and colorful descriptions of daily life in Saturnalia… sure to please readers with an affinity for ancient history.”—Booklist

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

As the festive holiday of Saturnalia approaches in Davis's well-crafted 18th Roman historical (after 2006's See Delphi and Die), informer Marcus Didius Falco receives an imperial commission from Emperor Vespasian to solve the murder of nobleman Sextus Gratianus Scaeva. The victim's brother-in-law was holding a valued captive, Veleda, a female German rebel leader who had caused plenty of problems for the Roman Empire. She somehow escaped at the same time the crime occurred, becoming the prime suspect in the process. Unconvinced that the mystery can be wrapped up neatly with the capture of the fugitive, Falco, aided as always by his astute and independent wife, Helena Justina, pursues other leads even as he hopes to find Veleda and prevent further political turmoil. The occasional anachronistic colloquial phrase jars a bit, but overall Davis does her usual sound job of bringing first-century Rome to life. (May)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Library Journal

Marcus Didius Falco and his wife, Helena Justina, are back in Rome preparing for Saturnalia celebrations when their plans are upset by an imperial assignment. Celtic priestess Veleda, held captive in a senator's home, has escaped, and a member of the household appears to have been ritually murdered and decapitated, his head found in the atrium pool of the home. Veleda's disappearance is to be kept secret, and Marcus has only a week to find her. His old nemesis, Anacrites, competes in the same assignment but has the Praetorian Guard at his disposal. Marcus's investigation leads him to the fringes of Roman society as he begins to suspect that a serial killer has been adding to the burdens of hunger, disease, and cold that already plague these unfortunates. The complex intertwining of religion and politics complicate the investigation. With a nod to CSI, the medical practices described-a surprising blend of science and quackery-include an army surgeon using forbidden autopsy techniques to help solve the mysteries. Tightly plotted, this 18th series episode is one of Davis's best. Christian Rodska's performance of the cynical and wisecracking Marcus is flawless. Highly recommended for all collections.
—Janet Martin

Kirkus Reviews
The festival of Saturnalia, a December holiday of license and merriment for all classes, proves a ticklish time to hunt down a killer. It's 76 A.D. when undercover agent Marcus Didius Falco gets the dangerous and politically sensitive job of finding an enemy of the state who has escaped house arrest, leaving behind the decapitated body of Scaeva, the owner's brother-in-law. The escapee is Veleda, a German warrior princess Falco previously met on a mission to stamp out a revolt she was fomenting. Back then Veleda had a brief fling with Justinus, Falco's brother-in-law, and helped them both escape from Germany. Justinus, now a married man, is still a little in love with her. Falco's opposed by Anacrites and his Praetorian Guards, who are also tasked with finding Veleda. Having often outwitted the Praetorians' inept chief spy, he hopes to find Veleda and prevent her death, prove she didn't commit murder and save his brother-in-law's marriage. As Falco travels the streets of Rome, awash with drunken revelers, he realizes that destitute people are turning up dead in unusually high numbers. With help from his friends and his clever, aristocratic wife Helena, Falco finds the answers to many questions, including who killed Scaeva and whether there really is a serial killer in Rome. The latest entry in Davis's long-running series (See Delphi and Die, 2006, etc.) boasts a straightforward mystery along with her usual double helping of historical detail.
From the Publisher
“Like visiting old friends in a familiar and endearing, if sometimes bizarre, environment. Jokes and skullduggery crowd the pages.”

“Falco wisecracks his way through the empire’s sleazy underside . . . Davis’s crimes are wickedly convoluted — real fun.”

Product Details

St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
Marcus Didius Falco Series, #18
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
6.72(w) x 10.86(h) x 1.00(d)

Meet the Author

Lindsey Davis’s first Falco novel, The Silver Pigs was published in 1989. Since then, her novel Two For the Lions won the inaugural Ellis Peters Historical Dagger in 1998 and in 1999 she received the Sherlock Award for Best Comic Detective for her creation, Marcus Didius Falco. Her last ten novels have all been Sunday Times hardcover bestsellers.

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