Davis, Lindsey - 'The Ides of April'
Lindsey Davis is the author of twenty books featuring Marcus Didius Falco, a private 'informer' or investigator in the Roman Empire under Vespasian. THE IDES OF APRIL marks a new direction for the writer. The principal character is Falco's adopted daughter Flavia Alba, who, aged 28, is following in her father's footsteps and earning a living as an investigator.
When a client of Flavia's dies unexpectedly, she is hired by the woman's relative to discover if there was anything sinister in the death. Flavia discovers that across Rome people have been dying unexpectedly with no obvious cause of death. As the festival for goddess Ceres approaches, Flavia, the police, and other officials who are attempting to discover what is happing in the city decide to lay a trap for the killer.
It was a wise move by Davis to focus a new series on Flavia Alba. She was always one of the more interesting characters in the Falco series and there is plenty of back-story for the author to mine. This is enjoyable for both fans of the series who know the story of Flavia's difficult childhood and her rescue by the Falco family but also allows those new to the series to discover glimpses of her background. Falco himself makes a brief appearance in the book which is an enjoyable touch.
The story of the murders is based on a snippet in Dio Cassius's Roman History the author wisely doesn't reveal until the end. It's an interesting premise and, in Davis's skilled hand, the story is very well told. The book has the usual chirpy trademark style of this series which can sometimes mask the solid research undertaken by Davis and her excellent knowledge of the ancient world.
I enjoyed the book far more than expected and think this series will likely bring new fans to Davis's books.
Sarah Ward, England