Saturnalia: (Falco 18)

Saturnalia: (Falco 18)

by Lindsey Davis

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781446455210
Publisher: Random House
Publication date: 03/01/2011
Series: Falco , #18
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 287,103
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

Lindsey Davis has written over twenty historical novels, beginning with The Course of Honour. Her bestselling mystery series features laid-back First Century detective Marcus Didius Falco and his partner Helena Justina, plus friends, relations, pets and bitter enemy the Chief Spy. After an English degree at Oxford University Lindsey joined the Civil Service, but became a professional author in 1989. Her books are translated into many languages and have been dramatized on BBC Radio 4. Her many prizes include the Premio Colosseo, awarded by the Mayor of Rome ‘for enhancing the image of Rome’, the Sherlock award for Falco as Best Comic Detective and the Crimewriters’ Association Cartier Diamond Dagger for lifetime achievement.

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Saturnalia 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
harstan More than 1 year ago
In 76 C.E. Roman Emperor Vespasian orders informer Marcus Didius Falco to investigate the murder of nobleman Sextus Gratianus Scaeva. The Emperor is concerned that the homicide is an act of terrorism related to Scaeva's brother-in-law, who has incarcerated Veleda, a Germanic rebel chieftain who was leading an insurgency against the Roman Empire. This she-wolf escaped her captivity while the killing occurred.------------- Though everyone else including the Emperor assumes Veleda killed Scaeva, Falco and his astute wife Helena Justina have some doubts as the timing of her escape is too convenient and had to be helped by an insider. He and Helena investigate how the woman obtained her freedom because they feel that is the path to the culprit at the same time they want to recapture Veleda before someone else who wants her silenced.---------------- As always in this long running Ancient Rome mystery series, Falco and Helena are astute, witty, and fun to observe as they work the homicide in which the ¿media¿ frenzy, the politicians, and the public have already convicted Veleda. Everyone seems to demand that the married sleuths do likewise with one person willing to kill them to emphasize that point. Fans will enjoy the latest whodunit that takes a modern day concept of hanging the most likely suspect before the evidence is fully found and effortlessly brings it into the first century Common Era due mostly to the strong cast especially the lead couple.-------------- Harriet Klausner
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love historical mysteries that have been well researched, but my favorites will always be those that include a good deal of comic relief, as all the Falco mysteries do. Once you read any of them, you are tempted to read them all, and reading them from first to last published is a particular treat. I highly recommend them.
Crime-reader More than 1 year ago
For those who love historical crime thrillers, do not hesitate starting those series about greatest detective in Roman times: Marcus Didius Falco and his troupe of investigators (some unwilling!). For those who already know the series this installment not only does show a great plot and a historical context, but also a great opportunity to know the most famous festivity of Romans at the time! Not to mention is another great reunion with all those beloved characters!
brokenangelkisses on LibraryThing 18 days ago
This is the 18th of Davis¿ `Falco¿ series, a set of books which follow the activities and `investigations¿ of Marcus Didius Falco, a private investigator in Rome during Vespasian¿s reign. I have never read any of these books previously so I am unable to comment on how this compares to her earlier or later books. I should also note that this is not a book I would usually select for myself; it was a book group pick and I eyed the choice with reluctance. I like reading about history, but in a factual form, not fictionalised. (It seems to me that many writers find it hard to tread the line between slipping in appropriate historical detail and simply flinging historical facts and settings at your reader to convince them that you have done a suitable amount of research.) Could this fictional romp through Rome impress me?The premise¿and realitySet during the rowdy festival of Saturnalia, a time when (carefully selected) slaves could act as master for a day or a feast, Falco¿s mission is to locate Veleda, a German captive who seems to have escaped from her `captivity¿ in a noble household. The apprehension is even more essential since her departure coincided with the discovery of a severed head in the house¿s swimming pool. Locating the escapee and establishing the truth about the head is complicated by several facts, not least of which is the authority¿s reluctance to admit publicly that the Barbarian Veleda has escaped, or indeed was even in Rome in the first place. Furthermore, Falco¿s brother-in-law, Justinus has disappeared after a(nother) row with his young wife and the general suspicion is that he is also looking for Veleda, who may be the love of his life. Oh, and Veleda is ill and may even be dying, which must be prevented¿so that she can be killed publicly during a parade (or `triumph¿) for the general who captured her. Can Falco capture Veleda without revealing she is on the loose and save his brother-in-law¿s marriage? Meanwhile, homeless people are dying at a rather worrying rate around the local area. Could someone be on a mission to destroy them? Or have they been murdered in order to carry out prohibited post-mortem examinations?So Falco is a daring detective who fights to rid Rome of crime¿except that he¿s not. Instead, he¿s a wisecracking family man whose main idea of investigative work seems to be to sit in a bar and wait for a lead to arrive. There is an awful lot going on in the book and most of it is family related or to do with job politics (as in, making sure you keep it). Sometimes Falco¿s wife, Helena, seems to be more of a PI than he is, although in fairness her gender allows her entry to places Falco can¿t access. The first chapter sets the scene by showing the detective with his father. The father declares a shocking piece of family news which Falco patiently listens to, they discuss family matters, then there is a kind of punch line at the end of the chapter which did make me giggle. Clearly, Pa likes to stir up trouble. This is really the focus of the book, with a bit of crime thrown in for extra flavour. This is not intended as a criticism, more an observation that although this was `sold¿ to me as crime fiction, it is really more of a family/historical saga.As I read the book I often giggled out loud at the Marcus¿ comments. As the narrator, he presents his own personal view of the world throughout. This means that the reader is treated to advice like ¿You¿ll never persuade the guild treasurer to admit he defrauded the funeral club so he could take three girlfriends to Lake Trasimene, if you are absolutely bursting to relieve yourself.¿ During one drunken party our hero sees ¿a tightly knotted group that included the man dressed as a turnip, whose friends were holding him down and pouring cups of wine into him (through his topknot of leaves) as if it was some kind of dangerous dare¿. I think it was the level of detail that made me giggle: I could really imagine the turnip dressed man wriggling about w
MikeFarquhar on LibraryThing 18 days ago
Lindsey Davis' Falco books are up to an impressive number eighteen with Saturnalia, as AD76 draws to a close.Marcus Didius Falco is an informer - a private investigator of a sort - in Rome, and sometime Imperial Agent, and he and his family are freshly returned from Greece (in the last book), just in time for the annual winter festival of Saturnalia. His case this time, on behalf of the Empire, is to find a German warrior priestess who has been taken to Rome in captivity, to be paraded, and then killed, in a Triumph, who has inconveniently escaped somewhere in the Eternal City. Charged with finding her before the end of the festival, Falco sets to with his usual style, ably aided and hindered in equal measure by the members of his extended family and friends.Davis used to write one Falco book a year, which used to pitch up sometime in the summer months, and lazing in a park somewhere, lazily wallowing in first century AD Rome, has been a habit for many summers now. She's recently moved to a laxer schedule, so reading a Falco book in mid-winter seems a bit odd, though right for this book. There's nothing particularly new or challenging here, but these are the sort of books I read just to escape to someplace elsewhere and elsewhen for a while, with an extended cast of characters that fit comfortably. Davis writes breezily, with a sense of both humour and drive, and like its predecessors, Saturnalia bowls along nicely. The conclusions, to both the plot and main sub-plot, are both a bit too tidy and neat perhaps, but it really doesn't matter that much in terms of enjoyment.
eagleeye2009 on LibraryThing 26 days ago
Typical Falco novel--Full of clever dialogue and unforgetable characters.
nolak on LibraryThing 26 days ago
AD 76, Vespasian is the ruler at the time of Saturnalia, and Veleda, the Germanic barbarian is brought to Rome, the lover? of Helena's brother during their German adventure. This causes problems with his marriage, but even bigger is a murder Veleda is suspected of, when she leaves after the young heir is found dead. Anacrites, the chief spy and Marcus are racing against each other to find her, but Helena is the balm that takes care of the problem, even though she is now pregnant with their third child.
Joycepa on LibraryThing 5 months ago
Saturnalia is the 18th in Davis' series featuring Marcus Didius Falco, a Roman private investigator during the reign of Vespasian.The story takes place during the Roman festival of Saturnalia, originally a feast to celebrate the dedication of the Temple of Saturn on December 17 but later expanded to an entire week. It was a pretty riotous affair, with slaves exchanging places with masters (within carefully presribed limits), the giving of presents, public and private feasts, wild parties, and generally rowdy behavior.Davis uses the 7 days of the feat to organize her story. The main plot centers around the escape, in Rome, of the captured German high priestess Veleda and the fear at the highest levels that Veleda might organize a rebellion in Rome itself. Falco is given the mission to find Veleda; he has until the end of Saturnalia to do so.We've met Veleda before in the 4th book of the series, The Iron Hand of Mars. At that time, Falco, accompanied by Justinus, brother of Falco's lover Helena, to Germana Libera, east of the Rhine River, on an imperial mission to dsicover the fate of a Roman general presumed missing in the area. They are captured and sent as gifts to Veleda; they escape with Veleda's help after Justinus, a handsome young man, spends a night alone with Veleda.But 5 years later, Justinus is married with a young son. The marriage is not an easy one, and Justinus and Claudia Rufina have had yet the latest in a series of arguments. Veleda's presence in Rome is not conducive to a reconciliation; in fact, Justinus disappears and all concerned are quite certain that he has decamped to find his former lover. Falco promises Helena's Senatorial family that he will find Justinus.Veleda escaped from being held, as was customary at that time, in the house of a noble family. Her escape coincides with the murder of the son of the family in a particularly brutal fashion--he has been decapitated and his head placed in the pool in the atrium. Veleda is the prime suspect for this murder.But other murders are occurring around Rome during this time, and the victims are far from noble--ex-slaves, runaways, homeless and vagrants. The question: are these murders in some way related to Veleda and her escape?During the course of the investigation, we meet various representatives of Rome's medical establishment. We also participate in the raucous celebration of Saturnalia; Davis' description left me wistful--I was definitely born too late!In this book, Davis departs from her usual approach in several ways: 1) the existence of a subplot and 2) Falco may be growing up! While Falco is as irreverent and cynical as ever, he is far more subdued--after all, he has a wife and family to consider. The quips are still there, his interactions with Petronius, his best friend and chief of the local vigiles, are still somewhat acerbic but the snappiness that characterized the earliest novels in particular is gone. However, that doesn't seem forced. Falco is still Falco and his family is still fascinating--but all have matured in one way or another, which seems natural. Any number of recurring characters reappear in addition to Falco's dysfunctional family; Anacrites, the Chief Spy, contributes his usual oily nastiness to the goings-on. The plot is still very good and the writing carries the reader along to a surprise ending.A very entertaining read. Highly recommended.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this wonderful 18th century mystery story and think you will too, especially, if you are a mystery lover like I am! The characters are great and the plot will keep you happily reading along!