All those doubters who query ‘Was there really a Daily Gazette?’ will find the Acta Diurna carefully explained to shut them up. Falco visits Petronius and his favourite brother-in-law, Gaius Baebius, at Ostia while on a missing person hunt for a vanished scribe. Fun and frights and family pressures colour a sunny adventure beside the sea (NB we know our Hero cannot swim…) There would be pirates – had not Pompey cleared the seas of pirates, as everybody knows. Perhaps we shall learn what pirates do when they are not being pirates any more.
At least, Falco assures himself, there are no dead bodies in this one. Regular readers will know what that means. A little boy comes to tell the vigiles that his mummy won’t wake up, for starters. The topiarist in fear of his life. Even Gaius Baebius takes sick leave. And that’s before we meet the sailors who want to play games with their gangplank, the mysterious Illyrian (who may not be Illyrian at all), the boy racer speeding in the flash chariot at rush hour, and the girl with too many romantic ideas.
Name from the past note: There is a name from the past. But we won’t talk about that.
‘This is the sixteenth Falco novel and they have built up a large following. It is not hard to see why.’ – the Times Literary Supplement
‘The setting is an intriguing one and a successful one too. Having discerned the overlap between fans of historical novels and fans of crime thrillers, Davis has hit upon a winning combination – proving that when it comes to crime, ancient civilisations hold just as much fascination as any grimy, contemporary city street’ – City Life
‘I shall omit what was said in my household next morning.’
Chosen by readers, Rosina and George Harter