31 August 2009

Londinium Mystery

One of the books I picked up at the Amery Library a couple weeks ago was The Jupiter Myth by Lindsey Davis. I pulled this one off the shelf because I remembered being entertained by a couple of her books several years ago.

Davis is an Oxford-educated former civil servant, who "ran away to be a writer." What she has written more than a dozen mysteries about a first century (C.E.) "informer," Marcus Didius Falco. Old Falco has worked his way up from being a free lance fixer and finder of missing relatives to working for the top Romans in colonial London.

The story in The Jupiter Myth circles around (and boy, does it go round and round) the attempt by Roman (not Scilian) organized crime to expand its protection and smuggling business to the frontier. In the process a retainer of a British ally of Rome, a local "king," is murdered. Falco is assigned by the Roman governor to fnd out what's going on and placate the "king."Of course, things get more complicated. Falco's best buddy, a fellow veteran, is undercover from Rome investigating the Roman mob. And the people Falco is interested in are the same people his old pal is interested in. And, his best buddy is secretly in love with Falco's sister. And Falco's wife is trying to rescue a homeless waif who is a British orphan. And one of the governor's centurians is on the take.

The story telling seemed to start off very slowly (like a Swedish mystery?). It may have been that I was reading in bits too small to keep me interested. However, when I began reading more than a couple little chapters at a time, the story was more interesting.

Marcus Didius Falco might whine about British weather and carp about being so far from his glorious Rome, but it was a relief from the dour Scandinavian weltanschaung I've read a lot of lately. Better? No, just a bit more uplifting.

Davis is great on researching the historic details and she does tell a good story. Check out one of her books and tell us what you think.

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