Another Review at MyShelf.Com

Falco Series - Book XIX

by Lindsey Davis


Falco, his pregnant wife, Helena, and their two children are on vacation in Alexandria, staying with his Uncle Fulvius.  Just after their arrival, their host throws a dinner party. The most important guest is Theon, the Librarian of Alexandria’s vast and famous library.  The next day Theon is found dead in a locked room in the library, and murder is soon proved to have been the cause of his demise.  Who better to call upon to look into the murder than newly arrived "foreigner" and Imperial Informer Falco?

Nineteen books and still counting, here is the latest opportunity to catch up with wisecracking shamus Falco and his family, complete with rascally Pa and now his uncle, too.  For me, the main attraction was Ms Davis’ excellent descriptions of Alexandria and its library, seen through Falco’s wryly-observant eyes.  Earlier entries in the series have featured comic portraits of bankers, builders, thespians and tour companies, and this one was about libraries and those who work in them and use them.  As with most fiction about Ancient Rome, running through the book was the theme of how akin we are to those who lived two thousand years earlier—with plenty of corruption and boardroom shenanigans.  But this, however delightful and informative, is surely not the main reason for reading a work of detective fiction. By the end of the book what was foremost on my mind was the rather mild and linear plot.  Not that it was not convoluted—it was—but despite the murders (plural), there was a feeling of much ado about not a lot.  This made the book fall flat, especially after the middle when nothing new was about to be added to the mix.  The sparkle present in the best entries in the series was lacking, and I had hoped to hear more about Uncle Fulvius, but his role seemed to merely be that of host.  Mildly entertaining, but not one of the series’ best entries.

The Book

Century (Random House UK)
5 February 2009
1846052874 / 9781846052873
Historical Mystery / 1st century AD Alexandria, Egypt
More at US || UK

The Reviewer

Rachel A Hyde
Reviewed 2009
© 2009