Pandora’s Boy

Written by Lindsey Davis
Review by Marilyn Sherlock

This is another story in the Falco series set in Rome in the first century AD. It concerns Falco’s daughter, Flavia, who has taken over the detective work from her father. Flavia is recently married to Manlius Faustus, recovering from being struck by lightning on their wedding day. He was married before, and his ex-wife suddenly arrives to offer Flavia a job. A young girl, Clodia Volumnia, has died. Was it through a love potion, a broken heart because her parents would not arrange a marriage to a local boy for her, or something else? Flavia says she will not take the case, but on the same day as she is offered it, Manlius disappears. Why? Was it something to do with the lightning strike? Short on money and not knowing if she will ever see Manlius again, Flavia decides to take the job after all.

Lindsey Davis’s knowledge of ancient Rome, its geography and customs, is deep and excellent. Her characterisation is good, and the story twists and turns until all the facts are thoroughly known. She has written many books set in Rome, and her Marcus Didius Falco series is very popular. I have read and enjoyed many of them. This, however, is the sixth book in this follow-up series concerning Flavia and I am not particularly impressed. To me, they ramble, and the author takes time to get to the point. I remember the original Marcus Falco books as more precise, which sped up the story and kept the pages turning.