The second in Davis' Marcus Falco mystery series, this is every bit as good as the first. Falco is one of the most appealing "detectives" to come along in a long time. Although the plot is complex, the characters are well defined enough to make the action easy to follow. At times the writing appears anachronistic, but never in a jarring or annoying way. It's an easy read with a very sweet romance as a subplot.
I particularly like the fact that the book contains a list of the characters at the front (and there is even quite a bit of humor there!) as well as maps in the back of the book.
This is the first of the Falco books I've read, so I might have missed something in the first book that detracted from my enjoyment of this one. But, I found the plot, while interesting, a bit drawn out and overly complicated with events that weren't truly needed. The story seems to be less about the actual mystery and more a soap opera type account of his life. And I had a hard time rooting for Falco, the main character. He's cynical, crass, self-centered, and has very low self esteem. Perhaps that appeals to some, but I found it hard to get into. Overall, it was an ok book, but a bit lackluster.
This is the second book in this series and, as with the first, I found it hard to get involved in it through the first 75 or so pages. But after that, I was glued to what was happening to the exclusion of other books I was reading.
During the mystery we learn more about the characters of Falco and his girl Helena, especially as it appears they have split. Fortunately, his love life resolves itself, but not before some severe heartbreak. There is a more complicated plot in this book than in the first novel.
Part of the plot revolves around the arrival of the "corn fleet" from Egypt, although the author sometimes uses "grain fleet." I thought this was an historical error, as corn originates in MesoAmerica and was certainly not found in the Old World in the first century A.D. Then, thanks to Wikipedia, I learned that until the 19th century, the English used "corn" to describe any cereal crop. However, I doubt that first century Romans were using "corn" to describe the grain they received from Egypt, even if Falco did serve in Britain while in the Roman army. As such, it still constitutes an error on the part of the author---a very minor error in a very good novel.
I hope the third novel tells us what Falco did with his race track winnings.
Sequel to Silver Pigs. I enjoyed it just as much. There is much character development in this one, and introduction of new but lovable characters. The romantic relationship seems a bit contrived -- both lovers misunderstanding each other all through the book. I wouldn't change a word of it, however. One thing I would change: Lindsey Davis uses too many exclamation marks. (I was going to insert an exclamation at the end of this sentence, but decided that would be like calling the kettle black). For my defense, I am a history teacher, and correct essays for a living. I have an unreasonable aversion to exclamation, especially as I tend to use them too much myself!!! It's contagious!!!
This is a terrific book. I highly recommend it.