Newly appointed Procurator of the Sacred Poultry (with a responsibility for goslings), Falco becomes entangled with the world of Roman religions and cults, and the Vestal Virgins in particular!
We see a better side of Helena’s brother Aelianus too. After he literally stumbles across the body of one of the Arval Brethren, with his throat slit, Aelianus offers to help out with Falco’s investigations. Not that Falco sees it that way…
Georgy Girl completely confounded my preconceptions – in fact there was a wholesale misunderstanding of the theme and plot on my part! Yes, there’s a baby and a single mum, but it’s not Cathy Come Home.
Georgina – George – shares her 1960s beatnik Battersea flat with self centred violinist Meredith, and her current lover, and fellow musician Jos. Downtrodden George spends her life running around after them, cooking, cleaning, entertaining, paying.
George has what we could call “low self esteem”, and continuously compares herself unfavourably to glamorous gazelle Meredith and indulges in unrequited love for Jos.
Her parents are live in domestic servants for the wealthy West Londoner Leamingtons, where Ted is James Leamington’s besotted valet, and her mother is the family housekeeper and cook.
George herself is a surrogate daughter to James, although we never really learn Mrs Ls thoughts on the matter. He’s funded George’s private education, music and dancing lessons and has converted a large room in the Leamington’s presumably large London house to serve as George’s dance school.
Everything changes when Meredith tells Jos that she’s pregnant as that she wants to keep the baby “this time”; and James asks George to become his mistress.
The death of his elder brother Simon while on family holiday triggers Matt’s schizophrenia.
The Shock of the Fall is his account of the last years of his childhood and his teenage descent into mental illness.
En route we see the impact on his mum, who never recovers from Simon’s death, and on friends and family who struggle to find ways to help no matter strong and unquestioning their love – his dad’s and Nanny Noo’s in particular.
Shardlake, Nicholas and Barak become embroiled in Kett’s Rebellion whilst in Norwich where Shardlake is investigating the brutal murder of the wife of one of Lady Elizabeth’s distant Norfolk relations.
Tombland is a weighty tome, and a fascinating way to explore the causes of and unfolding of the widespread social unrest that occurred during the early years of Edward Vi’s short reign, under Protector Somerset. Lots of parallels with 21st century capitalism too.