Wednesday, December 28, 2016

BOOK REVIEW: Deadly Election by Lindsey Davis

I’ve fallen behind with Lindsey Davis’ Flavia Albia Mysteries, set in ancient Rome, so I got books 3 and 4 for Christmas. I’ve just finished book 3: Deadly Election.

Flavia Albia is the adopted daughter of the famed informer/spy Marcus Didius Falco, whose stories I devoured. Albia is similarly hard-boiled, a determined and intelligent detective. Although she reports that being female limits her inquiries to discovering cheating husbands etc, she has in fact solved her share of murders mixed with political intrigue. While I still find her wry cynicism less convincing than Falco’s, I enjoy the complex mysteries she solves and her evolving relationship with magistrate Manlius Faustus.

In Deadly Election, Albia is back in Rome, recuperating from her most recent adventure (see book 2, Enemies at Home.) The family auction house is holding a summer sale, despite the fact that most people flee Rome in the heat of July. Albia, as the family representative, is more or less supervising so she is notified when a corpse is discovered in a lockbox the auction house has up for sale. Intrepid and responsible, she sets out to identify the victim with hopes it will lead to the murderer.

At the same time, Faustus comes to her for help (and for company.) He is acting as campaign manager for an old friend, Vibius Marinus. Faustus asks Albia in her capacity as informer to dig up dirt on the opponents. She’s game, but is disturbed by rumors about Faustus’ friend. The tangled relationships between the candidates make it unlikely that Vibius Marinus is as devoted a family man as Faustus believes him to be.

The pieces fall into place after a second body is found in the same trunk.

Albia is growing more confident and more mature. Faustus remains a strong support and all-round steady character. It’s taken some time for this series to grow on me but I’m glad I stuck with it and I’m looking forward to book 4.

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