I’ve been putting off writing this post for quite some time because it marks a monumentally sad occasion. I have finished the Marcus Didius Falco series by Lindsey Davis–all twenty books. There are no more. Ms. Davis recalcitrantly refuses to add any more to the Falco canon–but then I suppose it is the author’s prerogative to tire of a hero, even one as infinitely charming and cheeky as Marcus Didius Falco. At least she doesn’t go so far as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and kill off her dashing detective just to ensure that there can be no more sequels…or does she? You’ll have to read the final book to find out the answer to that question.
Alexandria occurs in the city of that name in Northern Africa renowned for its Lighthouse and its Great Library. When Marcus and family come to visit his odd old uncle Fulvius, they entertain the head librarian for dinner. The next morning the librarian is found dead in his study, and an illegal autopsy confirms that poison is the culprit. As the chief scholars of Alexandria jockey for position to become the next librarian, Marcus begins an investigation that leads him to stolen scrolls, man-eating lions, and power-hungry pedagogues.
In Nemesis, the final book in the Falco series, a family of Imperial freedmen living in swamps to the south of Rome are terrorizing the populace…and have been for years. When Marcus is called in to investigate the deaths of two of their neighbors, he discovers that some powerful official in Rome has been shielding them from punishment. This sets the stage for the final showdown between Falco and his nemesis, the Chief Spy Anacrites. The ending is a little bit shocking to modern sensibilities, but it sorts well with the harsher, less humane age in which Falco lived.
The Falco series is over, but to console myself I’ve picked up two more Lindsey Davis books from the library. The Course of Honor is set during the same time period as her Falco novels and focuses on the life of Vespasian. Rebels and Traitors deals with her “real” period of specialty, the English Civil War and the Commonwealth. Expect reviews from these in the near future after I’ve finished my time of mourning for the books that have passed away.