Time to Depart (Marcus Didius Falco Series #7)

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Overview

Balbinus Pius, the dirtiest underworld organizer in Emperor Vespasian's Rome, has been convicted of a capital crime at last, thanks to public servant Petronius Longus, better known to Marcus Didius Falco as his old army buddy Petro. A quirk of Roman law, however, allows every citizen condemned to death "time to depart." In other words, he has a chance to skip town. Taking full advantage of the law, Bilbinus embarks on a ship fit for a king, accompanied by his loyal factotums. From the wharf, Falco and Petro watch...
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Overview

Balbinus Pius, the dirtiest underworld organizer in Emperor Vespasian's Rome, has been convicted of a capital crime at last, thanks to public servant Petronius Longus, better known to Marcus Didius Falco as his old army buddy Petro. A quirk of Roman law, however, allows every citizen condemned to death "time to depart." In other words, he has a chance to skip town. Taking full advantage of the law, Bilbinus embarks on a ship fit for a king, accompanied by his loyal factotums. From the wharf, Falco and Petro watch Balbinus sail off to exile instead of Hades. And the race is on among his competitors to take over his old operations. It begins with a colossal heist at the Emporium, a major trading center. As Falco tries to stem the escalating crime wave, he faces another task almost as daunting: find a new apartment for himself and the woman he loves, a senator's daughter forbidden by Roman law to a man of Falco's rank. To make matters even more dangerous, Helen believes she's pregnant. Falco's head - along with other body parts - could be on the chopping block if her condition becomes public.
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Editorial Reviews

Newsday
Davis is both a deft storyteller and a scholar.
Detroit Free Press
Davis's vision of everyday life in the Roman Empire is superb!
Washington Post Book World
Roman history and culture are nice accessories for the more durable tool that Davis employs -- hilariously good writing.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Fresh from Last Act in Palmyra, Marcus Didius Falco, that most modern of ancient Romans, takes on organized crime in this latest installment of Davis's impeccably executed series. Falco has a job everyone loves to hate: he's the Emperor Vespasian's informer, or private detective-and he does his work well. This time, he's up against Balbinus Pius, perhaps the original John Gotti. Balbinus has finally been convicted of a capital crime, but, in traditional Roman style, he's been given a chance to flee before his scheduled execution. The power vacuum created by his departure seems to have sucked up every miscreant in Rome: markets are plundered, children are kidnapped, centurions are murdered. While Falco sets out to determine whether the crime wave is the work of a new kingpin or a herd of small-time operators, his private life is also in a bit of a spin. Companion Helena, a senator's daughter whom Falco is forbidden by law to marry because of their differing rank, is pregnant. And he's also pitted against his old army buddy and best friend, Petronius, captain of the fourth cohort of the Aventine Watch, in a corruption investigation. The tale gets a bit bumpy, as Davis, compensating for a slightly subpar mystery plot, tosses in lots of action scenes and personal turmoil. But Falco remains as delightfully irreverent and insightful as ever; and Davis, as usual, brings the time to life while handling the eternals-worry, danger, love and in-laws-just as deftly. (Jan.)
Library Journal
Davis (Last Act in Palmyra, LJ 2/1/96) turns her prodigious talents once again to ancient Rome. Marcus Didius Falco, series "secret agent," tracks an infamous criminal supposedly in exile who is exacting murderous revenge on his enemies. Dependable entertainment.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780786209620
  • Publisher: Macmillan Library Reference
  • Publication date: 3/1/1997
  • Series: Marcus Didius Falco Series , #7
  • Pages: 674
  • Product dimensions: 5.72 (w) x 8.79 (h) x 1.28 (d)

Meet the Author

Lindsey Davis, born in Birmingham, now lives in Greenwich. After an English degree at Oxford she joined the Civil Service but now writes full time.
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Table of Contents

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Reading Group Guide

1. Falco was originally derived as a classic genre 'private eye'. What do you consider to be the criteria for this and does Falco fit the model?

2. Compare how the Vigiles in Time to Depart relate to characters in modern 'police procedural' crime novels. What are the similarities and differences?

3. Explore how Falco balances his personal and professional responsibilities. In what ways does Falco's job as an informer affect his friendship with Petronius Longus? Where do you think his loyalties lie?

4. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of writing in the first person. Does a first person narrative present any particular problems in developing the story in a crime novel?

5. Helena Justina doesn't always act like a typical Roman girl of her standing. Why do you think this is and is it true to say that what never changes in history is human nature?

6. Examine the use of speech and language in Time to Depart. How successful is the author in conveying the way Ancient Romans actually spoke whilst writing for a modern audience?

7. How can a woman write as a man?

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Customer Reviews

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