The Ides of April

Written by Lindsey Davis
Review by Ilysa Magnus

As a fan of the Marcus Didius Falco series, I jumped at the opportunity to review this first installment in a new series featuring Falco and his wife Helena Justina’s adopted daughter, Flavia Albia. I was not disappointed.

During the reign of Domitian, Romans are not having a lot of fun. Arrests occur on a daily basis. People are ratting each other out. One never knows when the vigiles will come for you. Against this backdrop, 29-year-old widow, Flavia Albia, has taken up her dad’s old profession as a private informer, hired to investigate bad doings.

Random killings are occurring in the district where Flavia lives. Healthy people are waking up dead with no visible signs of illness. Ultimately, it becomes apparent to Flavia and the authorities that there is a pattern in these seemingly random occurrences. Someone is cleverly murdering people.

Flavia is smart, funny and approachable. Although she has escaped a life as a street urchin in Londinium and been elevated to a somewhat respectable position in her adoptive parents’ town, there is no artifice. Through Flavia, we get a tour of Rome, its customs, its celebrations, its people, its politics. There is little of her family – they are only peripheral, and it seems that’s how Flavia wishes it.

This was an enjoyable romp. Nothing heavy but sheer fun.