Friday, July 22, 2022

BOOK REVIEW: Desperate Undertaking by Lindsey Davis

 I received this book for free from Netgalley. That did not influence this review.

A new Lindsey Davis Flavia Albia mystery is being released this week, Desperate Undertaking. This is book ten in the series and continues the streak of consistently fast-paced entertaining historical mysteries set in Ancient Rome.

Albia is an informer/detective, the adopted daughter of Falco, an informer who starred in the author’s previous series. Although married to an aedile/magistrate, Tiberius, who helped with her earlier investigations, Albia prefers to work solo. Rather than a consistent partner, in each of the books she is helped or hindered by whichever of the fairly low-level Roman officials is tasked with dealing with crime in the various locales of Rome.

This novel focuses on Roman theater and acting troupes. A troupe in town to perform for a festival finds itself bereft of its two leaders/directors when they are gruesomely murdered. One victim, the wife, dies in front of Albia, naming “the undertaker” as her murderer.

While Albia investigates, she learns that this particular acting troupe was close to her adoptive parents way back when; in fact, they were friends and Falco even adapted plays for them. Other friends of friends make cameo appearances in the novel. (Falco, although not present, gets more page time than in previous books. There is also a hint that he still works part-time as an informer, rather than being fully retired.)  This adds a nice thread of continuity to the two series.

As typical in the genre, more murders pile up as Albia races to discover the culprit. There is also danger to herself, since whoever the murderer is, he seems to have a vendetta against the whole troupe of performers and may consider her a stand-in for her absent father.

Albia’s cynical smart-alecky voice carries the story along. The detail-rich descriptions of Rome and Roman customs bring the ancient world to life. Book ten does not disappoint!

No comments:

Post a Comment