Last Act in Palmyra – Lindsey Davis

Last Act in Palmyra - Lindsey Davis
Last Act in Palmyra – Lindsey Davis

Falco and Helena head east, to the kingdom of Nabatea and the Decapolis. Officially they are searching for a missing water organ player from snake charmer Thalia’s troupe; unofficially Falco is unexpectedly and unwillingly working for Imperial spymaster, and arch enemy, Anacrites.

The unofficial mission disappears almost as soon as they get to Petra, where they stumble across a dead body and fall in with with a touring group of theatricals.

Falco’s thespian side is unleashed as he, Helena and Nabatean priest/minder Musa try to work out who the murderer is.

Author page: Last Act in Palmyra – Lindsey Davis

Poseidon’s Gold – Lindsey Davis

Poseidon's Gold - Lindsey Davis
Poseidon’s Gold – Lindsey Davis

Falco and Helena return to Rome after their adventures in Germania, straight into the bosom of Falco’s difficult family.

An army friend of his elder brother, Festus – who died a hero’s death in the Judean War – has lodged himself in Ma’s home and proceeds to make trouble for the Didius family, and Falco in particular.

We get to meet Falco’s errant father, Geminus, too and end up spending a lot of time in the company of The Didius Boys in a plot that revolves around stolen art, Mediterranean shipping, soldiers’ pay, Greek statues and auctions.

Fabulous! We’re off to Palmyra next….

Author page: Poseidon’s Gold – Lindsey Davis

The Tartan Turban – John Keay

The Tartan Turban - John Keay
The Tartan Turban – John Keay

John Keay‘s biography of nineteenth century elusive adventurer Alexander Gardner.

Unlike many of the explorers and spies of The Great Game, Colonel Gardner didn’t leave behind his own polished account of his travels in Central Asia, nor of his years as an officer in the Sikh Empire, from the Empire’s glory years under Maharaja Ranjit Singh and through the familial treachery and turmoil that followed on from Ranjit Singh’s death. Even his younger years are veiled in the mists of time – but safe to say Scotland doesn’t feature (despite the tartan!)

So, there’s plenty of of scope for biographical sleuthing and rehabilitation from the always readable John Keay.

Author webpage: The Tartan Turban: In Search of Alexander Gardner – John Keay

The Birthday Boys – Beryl Bainbridge

The Birthday Boys - Beryl Bainbridge
The Birthday Boys – Beryl Bainbridge

Five chapters, each one narrated by a member of Scott’s expedition and each one sharing their experiences of a different stage of the fatal race to the South Pole. Each stage spans the narrator’s birthday.

I’ve read drier accounts of the Terra Nova Expedition of 1910–1913, and the deaths of “Taff” Evans, Oates, Bowers, Scott and Wilson, but Beryl Bainbridge’s short novel really brings these five very different men to life.

Publisher page: The Birthday Boys – Beryl Bainbridge

Deep Sea and Foreign Going – Rose George

Deep Sea and Foreign Going - Rose George
Deep Sea and Foreign Going – Rose George

Container shipping.

Sounds boring, right?

Wrong!

Themed chapters, with a strong emphasis on the people involved – the captain and crew; the pirates and those who police them; the ports, the passage; flags of convenience and the consequences.

Super easy to read. Stuffed full of facts.

I shall watch the container ships offshore from Walton on the Naze in a more informed fashion – and all thanks to Phil Wang’s recommendation on Radio 4’s A Good Read!

Author webpage: Deep Sea and Foreign Going: Inside Shipping, the Invisible Industry That Brings You 90% of Everything – Rose George

Review: Deep Sea and Foreign Going by Rose George – Sukhdev Sandhu, The Guardian, 13 September 2013

Container ship departing Felixstowe
Container ship departing Felixstowe