This is the eighth novel in the murder mystery series featuring Marcus Didius Falco, an informer and sleuth in Rome at the time of the Emperor Vespasian, circa AD 70, and Falco is back with a vengeance.
'Nobody was poisoned at the dinner for the Society of Olive Oil Producers of Baetica, though in retrospect this was quite a surprise.'
Because, after the dinner, one man is killed and Anacrites, The Emperor of Rome’s Chief Spy is seriously wounded and left for dead. This leaves no one except Falco to conduct the investigation.
Falco, and Helena his partner, who is heavily pregnant, travel overseas to Baetica, which approximately corresponds to modern Andalusia in Spain. Its capital was Corduba - hence the title of the book. They were using the excuse of inspecting the villa and olive crops of Helena Justina's father, Camillus Verus.
It soon becomes apparent to Falco that the killing was no simple murder.
He is rapidly plunged into the fiercely competitive world of olive oil production. Political intrigue, an exotic Spanish dancer and his impending fatherhood all add to Falco’s troubles. How the plot unfolds will keep you guessing right until the end.
Although I have the book, I listened to this on the free library One Click Audible Book service. The narration was excellent. The only thing missing in the audible version is that the book has a list of characters with a tongue in cheek description of them and their role in the story. It also has a handy map of the area.
All of Lindsey Davis novels are extremely well researched, and to me, reading about Falco and Helena Justina almost seems like catching up with gossip at a family reunion. Her consistently skilfully crafted books all have very interesting plots with well drawn characters and fine, detailed description of the ways of the ancient Roman Empire and its citizens. The places she describes come alive and you can feel that you are there, experiencing the smells and tastes and noises and atmosphere. The books are full of action, intrigue and humour - and this one has a particularly good twist at the end.
Lindsey Davis has written nearly thirty novels. Her books are translated into many languages and serialised on BBC Radio 4. She lives in the Midlands where she grew up and is currently President of the Birmingham and Midlands Institute.