Friday, October 2, 2009

Ode to a Banker: Lindsey Davis

I thoroughly enjoy all the Falco mysteries by Davis, and this one is the twelfth in the series. She writes with a wonderful sense of humour and a great eye for detail. Even though the story is set in Rome AD74 it’s as if she had recently visited and learned the daily habits of people – what they ate, what they wore, how they decorated their homes, how fires were put out, how the subtle relationships between men and women were handled, and much more.

Marcus Didius Falco is a private informer who has somehow managed to marry well above his station in life, which keeps him on his toes and provides a constant source of mystery and amusement for the reader trying to figure out the relationship between husband and wife. In this particular story the exact nature of the relationships between a wealthy banker and his first and second wives also contributes to the mystery. The banker is also an arts patron and publisher, and there is much insight into the world of publishing before the days of printing and paper. And even though this book was published in 2000, her insights and parallels between the world of banking in ancient Rome and the scams and hedge funds leading to the banking meltdown of 2008 are quite eerie. The banker is murdered, and Falco has to figure out if this was the result of a banking deal gone wrong, or an angry writer feeling cheated, or a wife becoming overly jealous. A great read!

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