Lumbered with working alongside reptilian Chief Spy Anacrites, Marcus Didius Falco has the perfect plan to make money - he will assist Vespasian in the Emperor's 'Great Census' of AD73. His potential fee could finally allow him to join the middle ranks and be worthy of long-suffering Helena Justina.
Unexpectedly confronted with the murder of a man-eating lion, Falco is distracted from his original task, uncovering a bitter rivalry between the gladiators' trainers. With one star gladiator dead, Falco is forced to investigate and the trail leads from Rome to the blood-soaked sand of the arena in North Africa.
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The further Davies gets into her series of private eye (or, to be precise, public informer) thrillers set in the Rome of Vespasian, the more she learns what it is that she does best. Falco is working for the tax department, investigating used gladiator scams, and stumbles into more murders. The various mysteries here--the stabbing of the arena- lion trained to eat criminals, the murder of a famous gladiator generally considered past his prime--are solved elegantly enough and with a genial ruthlessness appropriate to the period in which they are set.
Davies never forgets that this society rests on the backs of slaves and has a taste for bloodshed which even we might consider excessive. But what we read Davies for is partly for the continuing soap opera of on-the-make Falco, his upper-class wife Helena and their variously rackety, lowlife or snobbish connections, and partly for her simply wonderful knowledge of how things worked. We learn, for example, a lot about the wild- beast trade and provincial resentments in a North Africa which the Romans still suspect are more Carthaginian than not; Davies's novels are entertaining and informative, and leave one wanting more.--Roz KaveneyReview:
"Surely the best historical detective in the business" (Mike Ripley Daily Telegraph)
"For more laughter visit Ancient Rome in Lindsey Davis' tenth novel" ( Mail on Sunday)
"If only all bestsellers were this satisfying" ( Time Out)
Davies is a prolific and popular writer ... Her research has been assiduous and detailed, her commitment to the subject is impressive, and the background detail is often eye-opening.
Hilary Mantel" (Hilary Mantel Observer)
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Book Description Arrow Books Ltd (London), 1999. Paperback. Book Condition: New. New Copy, has come from shop stock and may have some light shelfwear; Brand new book; Books Found Fast: Established in 1972, on-line since 2002, we sell new and used books, revenue from which benefits a number of UK Charities; Recycle Today for a Better Tomorrow. Bookseller Inventory # mon0000020511