Thursday, July 15, 2004

Scandal takes a Holiday

"The Rome of Vespasian and Titus comes to life in Davis's entertaining 16th entry in her popular ancient historical series (after 2003's The Accuser) featuring "finder" Marcus Didius Falco. The staff of the official government newspaper retains Falco when Diocles, the paper's gossip columnist, disappears while on a visit to Ostia. At the seaport, a cesspool of corruption, Falco follows up on rumors that pirates, supposedly put out of business by Pompey the Great decades earlier, are engaged in smuggling and a kidnapping racket. Utilizing his street smarts and well-earned cynical view of humanity, Falco moves in and out of dives and places of worship on. the trail of a mysterious figure who acts as the middleman between the kidnappers and the victims' families. Disturbingly, some of the clues point to one of the detective's disreputable relatives."

An interest in the Emperor Vespasian was the primary reason Lindsey Davis turned to ancient Rome as the setting for her historical novels, reports Caroline Foulkes.

"The story of the Roman Emperor Vespasian and his mistress Antonia Caenis fascinated Lindsey, and, given the lack of information about Antonia, she decided to turn it into a novel. The Roman setting made publishers reluctant to take it on, and it took ten years before it was finally published. Yet writing The Course of Honour inspired Lindsey to begin the Falco novels, the first of which, The Silver Pigs, was published in 1989.

'The research I did for The Course of Honour got me interested in the Roman period, and gave me the idea of setting a detective novel in the big, dangerous city that Rome was at that time. Having written romance, I wanted to do something that involved other emotions. But I will always be a romantic writer in a way, because I'm interested in human relationships.'"
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