AD75. As a passion for home improvement sweeps through the Roman Empire, Marcus Didius Falco struggles to deal with Gloccus and Cotta, a pair of terrible bath house contractors whose slow progress and bad workmanship have been causing him misery for months. Far away in Britain, King Togidubnus of the Atrebates tribe is planning his own makeover. His huge new residence (known to us as Fishbourne Palace) will be spectacular - but the sensational refurbishment is behind time and over budget, its labour force is beset by 'accidents', corrupt practices are rife, and everyone loathes the project manager. The frugal Emperor Vespasian is paying for all this; he wants someone to investigate.
Falco has a new baby, a new house, and he hates Britain. But his feud with Anacrites the Chief Spy has now reached a dangerous level, so with his own pressing reasons to leave Rome in a hurry, he accepts the task. A thousand miles from home, with only his family to support him, he starts restoring order to the chaotic building site. Then, while he searches the feuding workforce for Gloccus and Cotta, he realises that someone with murderous intentions is now after him . . .
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It's a close-run thing. Two authors have made a speciality of brilliantly researched and highly atmospheric thrillers set in ancient Rome. Lindsey Davis is currently ahead on points, and the latest Falco thriller, A Body in the Bath House, is quite the most diverting entry in the series yet. Steven Saylor's Gordianus the Finder series will have to scrabble to maintain this level. The highly impressive sleight-of-hand that Davis is so adept at is just as much in evidence here as in such previous entries in the series as Ode to a Banker: while the sights, sound and smells of ancient Rome are conjured up with a truly pungent verisimilitude, Falco's modern sensibility never jars, and this Philip Marlowe of the ancient world remains a perfect conduit for the reader.
Cleverly extrapolating current fads, Davis demonstrates that even in AD 75 a passion for home improvement has gripped the Roman Empire. Falco is losing patience dealing with two cowboy builders who have been wreaking havoc on his bath house, but after the contract is finished, Falco and his father investigate hideous smells and find grisly human remains on the site. Simultaneously, in the primitive outpost of the Empire that is Britain, King Togidubnus is creating a spectacular new palace, but murderous accidents and corruption are bedevilling the project. Rome's Emperor Vespasian sends Falco to sort out the trouble, and this gives Falco a chance to escape from his dangerous feud with a Roman spy. Needless to say, as he penetrates to the heart of the mystery in Britain, his own life is (as usual) soon on the line with an implacable killer on his trail.
One would have thought that the law of diminishing returns would have kicked in by now, but this series goes from strength to strength. Taking up a Falco novel is an entrée into a world that is always colourful, always fascinating and always dangerous. --Barry ForshawReview:
"Queen of the humorous crime romp is Lindsey Davis- the adventures of the likeable Falco on foreign soil are fertile ground for laughs and thrills" ( Guardian)
"This book is a delight for Falco fans and will strike a chord with anyone who has endured builders in their home" ( Daily Telegraph)
"A superb example . her witty and literate Falco novels are models of the genre" ( The Times)
"Wonderful, great fun all round" ( Daily Telegraph)
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Book Description 2002-06-06., 2002. Book Condition: New. Arrow. New Ed. Paperback. Book: VERY GOOD. 384pp. . Bookseller Inventory # NF-1750812
Book Description Arrow Books, 2002. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # P110099298309