The Greeks had a word for everything – and the Romans invented the rest. The Golden Age of tourism was the First Century AD, when the site guides – then as now – babbled incomprehensibly, the hotels were always under construction and when things went wrong, the travel companies did not want to know. Mountain scenery was panoramic but roads were rough, beds were hard (where they were available), fellow travellers were ghastly and the weather could only be relied upon to be foul. Those who died abroad knew the Roman port authorities would try to charge import duty on their ashes, especially if they came home in a luxury urn…
Aulus, now a model student, has met an interesting man. He has heard an intriguing story about two dead women at the ancient site of the Olympic Games. His mind is supposed to be set on Athens not athletics, so Falco is sent out to ensure the scholar finds his university without being sidetracked by sport, corpses, or the Seven Wonders of the World. There are sites, sights, statues, oracles, and curiosities of foreign food. The Roman governor is on holiday. The gods, when they are not angry, are decidedly bilious.
This is the one where I got the date wrong, but it helped the plot.
‘Davis writes dense prose that requires careful reading, slipping in a random clue that may become vital to figuring out who did what or what really happened. Every book in this series is a delight, the characters so finely drawn that they have become good friends and the plots so unusual and frothy with good humor that it comes as a surprise when the climax is so shocking and original. Fans will snap it up. Highly recommended.’ – US Library Journal
‘As with every Falco story, the plot is well-paced, with clever twists to keep the reader guessing. Some intense skirmishes heighten the tension; there is a terrifying scene in which the detective has to fend off a Greek wrestler… Davis is also a very funny writer. See Delphi and Die has a shocking and abrupt ending, which paves the way for Falco’s eighteenth adventure; this installment shows that the quality of Lindsey Davis’s writing is still high.’ – Times Literary Supplement
‘Falco wisecracks his way through the Empire’s sleazy underside to provide amusing lessons on the way crime, greed and cover-ups were endemic… Davis’s crimes are wickedly convoluted but Falco’s facetious tongue and domestic convolutions are the real fun’ – TIME magazine
‘Falco’s 17th case is as elegant and intelligent as any of its predecessors’ – Kirkus Reviews
‘Somewhere in the Altis an owl hooted. My stomach emitted a lugubrious glug. I sat still, using the time before my next bout of suffering to think. Diarrhoea can be the informer’s friend.’
Chosen by reader, Michelle Breuer Vitt