The eight book of the series about Marcus Didius Falco sends the Roman informer to Spain, where some major olive oil producers are suspected of plotting a cartel to raise the praise of their highly valued commodity. Author Lindsey Davis dedicates this book to the late writer Edith Pargeter, who as Ellis Peters created the Brother Cadfael series. Davis has been compared as the next Peters, but that is about as fair as calling Dorothy Sayers another Agatha Christie. Both are good writers, but their novels work in different ways. Davis' novels travel a wider piece of ground than the monk's abbey, and her stories are far more varied. Also, what sets Falco apart from his hard-boiled rivals is that he shows great sense about power politics behind the Roman Empire. He may be fooled at times, but he's no fool and rightfully suspicious of everyone's motives, and he toes that line without falling into the despair of cynicism where one concludes that since men and women are capable of venial behavior, then all men and women are venal. He is also capably aided by his high-born wife, Helena Justica, who is also a model of good sense. Their relationship is comfortably complex, and this series is a wonderful ground-zero introduction into life and death during the Roman Empire.
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Bill Peschel (Bill_Peschel)
Bill Peschel was born in 1960 in Ohio, and grew up there and in North Carolina. He graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a B.A. in journalism. At The Avalon Hill Game Company … more
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In this latest addition to a durable series, Marcus Didius Falco travels to the distant province of Baetica, pregnant girlfriend in tow, to investigate a possible olive oil cartel. The emphasis in this historical mystery is as much on historical as mystery, with solid detail and vivid insights that bring the ancient Roman alive. But the plotting, though leisurely, is nicely suspenseful and the ending worth the wait. Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.