Ode to a Banker: A Marcus Didius Falco Mystery
Can a tough detective have the sensibilities of a poet? When street-smart Marcus Didius Falco is coerced into a public reading of his satires, he couldn’t feel worse. Yet his scribbling is met with rousing applause…and an offer by Chrysippus, esteemed banker, patron of the arts, and scroll merchant, to publish his work.
Et tu, Brute! A euphoric Falco then discovers that Chrysippus expects to be paid for putting the budding author’s work on papyrus. Falco is no Horace, but he has his pride. His ensuing altercation with the publisher makes him a suspect when Chrysippus is found brutally murdered—a classic body in a library. Fortunately Falco has an alibi, and thanks to his friends in the Watch, he also lands the job as the homicide’s official investigator.
Murder, no matter how foul, is something Falco can handle even when he’s up to his stylus in outraged authors and crafty bankers. But caught between family demands and pressure to wrap up the investigation, Falco relies on a time-honored method: He assembles all the suspects in the same room. He will need all his instincts and skills to find the one crucial clue that can break the case.
Marcus Didius Falco, Lindsey Davis’s clever private informer, passes a hot Roman summer tracking down the killer of a Greek banker and publisher. Was the killer one of Aurelius Chrysippus’s stable of writers, dissatisfied with the patron’s lack of enthusiasm for his latest opus or resentful about the humiliating terms of his contract? Or was Chrysippus’s bloody death connected to financial shenanigans at the Aurelian Bank? Commissioned to investigate the murder by his friend Petronius Longus, Falco finds himself in the middle of a case with clues that may lie in the fragments of a manuscript found at the murder scene—or maybe in the banking records someone seems willing to kill to keep secret. At the same time, Falco’s sorting out a thorny family matter concerning his mother and his sister, both of whom seem inordinately fond of an imperial spy Falco has good reason to distrust. And if that’s not enough, he’s also being taken to the cleaners by the contractors his wife Helena Justina has engaged to renovate their new home.
As usual, Davis brings first century Rome to glorious life, and subtly drives home the striking parallels between ancient and contemporary business, politics, and family life. In the 12th book of in this increasingly popular series, she makes the most of every opportunity for satire and spins a lively yarn guaranteed to make the reader laugh out loud and clamor for more. Fortunately, there’s a solid backlist to entertain readers encountering Falco for the first time (One Virgin Too Many, Two for the Lions). —Jane Adams
Barnes and Noble
When a wealthy banker is gruesomely murdered, Marcus Didius Falco must search the streets of ancient Rome to hunt down a very clever killer.