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Saturday, 21 February 2015

Lindsey Davis - Enemies at Home (Falco the New Generation Flavia Albia)

This audio book review was written by Ro Bennet and read live by her on the bookshow 19th Feb 2015.

This is another library audio book that I have thoroughly enjoyed. The narrator is Lucy Brown who is excellent. 

I have read most of Lindsey Davis’ books about Didius Falco the Roman informer and I have enjoyed them all, as I love her style and her witty sense of humour. I had intended to finish those books before reading the series about the new generation, which focus on his adopted daughter Flavia Albia who has also become an informant. But when I put Lindsey Davis’ name into the library audiobook search, this is the only book that came up. It’s not even the first book in the series, it’s the second, but it’s ok as a stand alone, although I will read the first book once I have read the rest of the Falco series.

I’ll give you some background to the story which has been gradually unfolded during the original Falco series: 
Falco was born on 20 or 21 March 41 AD  His father is a somewhat shady auctioneer. While Falco is still young, his father leaves his mother and the family home to live with another woman. When his brother is killed, Falco is effectively head of the family.
Falco joins the Roman Army and serves in Britain during the Boudiccan Revolt. 
He met his wife, Helena Justina, the divorced daughter of a senator while on an investigation in Britannia. He and Helena now live together with their two daughters. Falco and Helena adopted Flavia Albia, a British child, whom they rescued in London when she was found hidden after her parents were killed. 

The Ides of April  is the first book about Albia’s role as informer. It is AD 89, Albia is 28. Presumably her father has retired - but I won’t know until I read the last book in the first series.

This is from the official Book Description:
In Enemies at Home, Albia is portrayed as a remarkable woman in what is very much a man's world: young, widowed and fiercely independent, she lives alone on the Aventine Hill in Rome and makes a good living as a hired investigator. An outsider in more ways than one, Albia has unique insight into life in ancient Rome, and she puts it to good use, going places no man could go, and asking questions no man could ask.

Even as the dust settles from her last case, Albia finds herself once again drawn into a web of lies and intrigue. Two mysterious deaths at a local villa may be murder and, as the household slaves are implicated, Albia is once again forced to involve herself. Her fight is not just for truth and justice, however; this time, she's also battling for the very lives of people who can't fight for themselves.

Enemies at Home presents Ancient Rome as only Lindsey Davis can, offering wit, intrigue, action and the further adventures of a brilliant new heroine who promises to be as celebrated as the much loved Marcus Didius Falco and his wife Helena Justina, her fictional predecessors.

In Ancient Rome, there were more slaves that free citizens. Consequently, 
often the people Romans feared most were the “enemies at home,” their own slaves. Because of this, Roman law decreed that if the head of a household was murdered at home, and the culprit wasn’t quickly discovered, his slaves—
all of them, guilty or not—were presumed responsible and were put to death. 
All the slaves would have been executed anyway, for failing to protect their owners.

So, when a house is burglarized,and the owners are found dead in their bedroom, their household slaves know what is about to happen to them and they bolt to the Temple of Ceres for sanctuary.

This makes them the problem of local magistrate, Manlius Faustus. Faustus therefore recruits informer Flavia Albia to investigate the murders.

This is another gripping read by Lindsey Davis - she’s very adept at building up suspense and I had no idea who the murderer was. Her descriptions are so vivid I really feel like I am drawn into first century Rome. I can picture it and smell and hear it - and almost taste it. Lindsey Davis is a clever and well informed woman and you can appreciate the amount of research that has gone into giving these books their authentic flavour. I find it interesting to read about the varied lifestyles, from senators to slaves, their homes and what they ate and wore and their customs etc.  And beside this they are excellent murder mysteries and a guaranteed good read. Heartily recommended! 

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