Tuesday, November 06, 2007

[Book Review] SILVER PIGS by Lindsey Davis

Fiction/Mystery, Historical

Jesse Pool reviews SILVER PIGS by Lindsey Davis (Crown Publishers, 1989)

Silver Pigs is the first novel in Marcus Didius Falco mystery series. Generally, I'm not much a of mystery reader, but a customer who shares a passion for some of my favorite authors recommended the series to me, so I thought I'd give this book a try.

This is a hard-boiled detective story with a twist. Falco is a private informer in ancient Rome. He's 30-years old. He rents a one room apartment which doubles as his office on the 6th floor of an apartment building, which is bad for business since anyone who might want to use his services would have to climb six flights of stairs to see if he's in. When he's late with the rent, which is fairly often, he can expect a visit from gladiators who are employed by his landlord as collection men. In addition to the gladiators, he has to be on the look out for his mother, who is constantly tidying up his room and running off any flute girls he may bring home for the evening.

Falco's luck changes one afternoon when a gorgeous young lady of 16 runs into him at the Temple of Jupiter. It goes from "bad" to "worse". The girl is the daughter of a senator and she is being chased by four thugs who had recently kidnapped her.

Her name is Sosia Camillina, and she confides in him that there is a plot to overthrow the emperor Vespasian being paid for with stolen silver smuggled in to Rome from Britain. The silver is in the form of ingots, or "silver pigs" as they are called. It is illegal for anyone other than the government to own one, so when one comes into Falco's possession, he has to be careful about where to hide it until he can be certain of who he can trust in the government in order to turn it in.

Falco is ready to walk away from the case, but when Sosia Camillina is murdered and it looks as if no one will answer for it, he feels compelled to see the case through, even though it means going to Britain. Falco has been to Britain once before, as a young soldier, and hated every damp, cold minute of it. To make matters worse, in order to find out about the scheme, he must endure the wicked tongue of Sosia's beloved cousin Helena Justina as well as work undercover as a slave for several months in the silver mines.

When he has gathered enough evidence of the plot, Falco accompanies Helena Justina back to Rome. The pair must be careful to avoid getting killed by the conspirators they are trying to unmask while they try to discover who murdered Sosia Camillina.

In addition, romantic tension between Falco and Helena Justina has developed over the long trip home from Britain, which troubles Falco because of their difference in social station.

I'm looking forward to reading the rest of this series. Davis paints a vivid picture of ancient Rome and ancient Britain while giving the reader an action-packed mystery full of developed characters, romance, intrigue, and even a chase scene on chariots.

Jesse Pool, Highland Branch Library

Labels: , ,

Comments: Post a Comment

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?