Saturnalia was a Roman holiday that can best be compared to Las Vegas at its most riotous. That most famous of all Roman “private eyes,” Marcus Didius Falco, finds his Saturnalia plans pushed aside when he is charged with discovering the whereabouts of Veleda, a Germanic priestess captured by Rome but now mysteriously on the run. As an enemy of the state, Veleda must be recaptured and then executed. Veleda’s escape from custody is complicated by the murder of a wealthy and prominent citizen.
Falco’s cases are never simple and straightforward, and this one is as compelling as the seventeen (17!!!) others that Lindsey Davis has allowed us to observe. Players introduced include a lovesick Roman, a wife seeking revenge, bumbling legionnaires, the always interesting Chief Spy Anacrites, and a delightful quartet of medical practitioners (quacks) who represent Roman tendencies to adopt the latest fads in a way few classical scholars can duplicate. Through it all, the indefatigable Falco and the charming and surprising Helena Justina manage to solve the numerous riddles while simultaneously displaying the characteristics of a couple who have been together long enough to tolerate the other’s behavior. Neither Falco nor Davis will disappoint.