A thoroughly enjoyable romp on the wrong (non-Roman) side of the Rhenus / Rhine, for the reader at least, as Marcus Didius Falco is ordered by Emperor Vespasian to deliver the Iron Hand of Mars to the 14th Gemina, one of the legions controlling the border between Roman Gaul and Free Germany. And to do a spot of investigating on the side with the aim of reaching a peace settlement with the Celtic tribes of Free Germany. Not much to do there then.
Experiences en route to to frontier, and beyond it, prove to be rather less enjoyable for those involved – Falco, Helena’s beloved younger brother Justinus, and a crew of novice legionaries under the command of grizzled Centurion Helvetius. And a flamboyantly attired hairdresser to Emperors, keen to do a spot of sight seeing abroad…….
Roman private eye, Marcus Didius Falco, tangles with the nouveau riche of the Pincian Hill, and his ensuing investigation brings him into the nefarious realms of rogue developer landlords and a professional bride trailing three deceased husbands in her wake.
Very kindly purchased for me by the Barbican Library team, “to ensure we have the whole series.”
Sarah Dunant continues on from Blood & Beauty, following the Borgias as they extend their power over the city states that made up Renaissance Italy.
As Catalan Pope Alexander VI Rodrigo Borgia consolidates his control over the Catholic church, his offspring extend the dynasty’s authority in the secular world – Cesare Borgia by battle, siege and subterfuge, Lucrezia Borgia by marriage and courtly influence in Ferrara.
This tale of complicated family relationships is set in Grace, Arizona, home to populations of peacocks, Hispanics and Native Americans, which co-exist comfortably in this remote mining town.
Thirty-something Codi returns to Grace to take care of her father, Doc Homer, who’s self-diagnosed the early stages of Alzheimers. Her younger sister Hallie has recently left Tucson to put her agricultural skills to better use in Nicaragua where US-backed Contras are fighting the Sandinistas in the Nicaraguan Revolution.
Back “home”, Codi reconnects with her High School world – some of it happy, most of it not. A strong environmental / ecological strand weaves around her rekindled relationship with Loyd Peregrina, a Native American she knew in her teenage years.
As the story progresses, Grace slowly starts to find herself less of the outsider she always felt herself to be.
No 2 in the series, and (eventually) Falco heads off to the Bay of Naples for a holiday with best friend Petronius and family, plus his own nephew, Larius. Oh, and an ulterior motive – the ongoing search for the scheming senators who fled Rome after their plot against Emperor Vespasian failed….