For years I avidly collected all of Lindsey Davis’s Didius Falco mysteries. My passion has cooled a bit, as it usually does for series mysteries, but I still enjoy them enough to pick them up when I find them.
Marcus Didius Falco is a cynical, rascally, wisecracking “informer” during the Roman Empire of Vespasian. I have followed his path from the first book when he met Helena Justina, the fiery, unconventional daughter of a senator. Falco has had to work his way up from the plebeian rank and earn enough money so that he can legally be permitted to marry her.
In Alexandria, the 19th novel in this series, Falco and Helena Justina have been married for awhile when they travel to Alexandria with their two daughters, their adopted teenage daughter, and their mongrel dog for a vacation and visit to his uncle. Almost immediately upon arrival Falco is plunged into an investigation when his uncle’s dinner guest of the night before, Theon, the head of the famed library, is found dead, locked in his own office.
Of course, Falco has to figure out how Theon was murdered and why. He soon finds that several of the library’s scholars may want Theon’s job. Of course, people begin dropping like flies, including a philosophy student who is mauled by a crocodile. Falco begins to suspect that something else might be going on.
Davis’s books always involve a multitude of interesting, shifty characters and lots of dirty politics and other shenanigans, and Falco is always engaging and amusing. Davis does a convincing job of re-creating the ancient world in her books.
If you are interested in this series, I recommend that you start with the first book, Silver Pigs (recently renamed The Silver Pigs). Although the mysteries are stand-alone, developments in Falco’s personal life make it more enjoyable if you read this series in order.