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Enemies at Home

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From renowned author Lindsey Davis, creator of the much-loved character, Marcus Didius Falco and his friends and family, comes the second novel in her all-new series set in Ancient Rome. We first met Flavia Albia, Falco's feisty adopted daughter, in The Ides of April. Albia is a remarkable woman in what is very much a man's world: Young, widowed and fiercely independent, sh From renowned author Lindsey Davis, creator of the much-loved character, Marcus Didius Falco and his friends and family, comes the second novel in her all-new series set in Ancient Rome. We first met Flavia Albia, Falco's feisty adopted daughter, in The Ides of April. Albia is a remarkable woman in what is very much a man's world: Young, widowed and fiercely independent, she lives alone on the Aventine Hill in Rome and makes a good living as a hired investigator. An outsider in more ways than one, Albia has unique insight into life in ancient Rome, and she puts it to good use going places no man could go, and asking questions no man could ask. Even as the dust settles from her last case, Albia finds herself once again drawn into a web of lies and intrigue. Two mysterious deaths at a local villa may be murder and, as the household slaves are implicated, Albia is once again forced to involve herself. Her fight is not just for truth and justice, however; this time, she's also battling for the very lives of people who can't fight for themselves. Enemies at Home presents Ancient Rome as only Lindsey Davis can, offering wit, intrigue, action and the further adventures of a brilliant new heroine who promises to be as celebrated as Marcus Didius Falco and Helena Justina, her fictional predecessors.


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From renowned author Lindsey Davis, creator of the much-loved character, Marcus Didius Falco and his friends and family, comes the second novel in her all-new series set in Ancient Rome. We first met Flavia Albia, Falco's feisty adopted daughter, in The Ides of April. Albia is a remarkable woman in what is very much a man's world: Young, widowed and fiercely independent, sh From renowned author Lindsey Davis, creator of the much-loved character, Marcus Didius Falco and his friends and family, comes the second novel in her all-new series set in Ancient Rome. We first met Flavia Albia, Falco's feisty adopted daughter, in The Ides of April. Albia is a remarkable woman in what is very much a man's world: Young, widowed and fiercely independent, she lives alone on the Aventine Hill in Rome and makes a good living as a hired investigator. An outsider in more ways than one, Albia has unique insight into life in ancient Rome, and she puts it to good use going places no man could go, and asking questions no man could ask. Even as the dust settles from her last case, Albia finds herself once again drawn into a web of lies and intrigue. Two mysterious deaths at a local villa may be murder and, as the household slaves are implicated, Albia is once again forced to involve herself. Her fight is not just for truth and justice, however; this time, she's also battling for the very lives of people who can't fight for themselves. Enemies at Home presents Ancient Rome as only Lindsey Davis can, offering wit, intrigue, action and the further adventures of a brilliant new heroine who promises to be as celebrated as Marcus Didius Falco and Helena Justina, her fictional predecessors.

30 review for Enemies at Home

  1. 4 out of 5

    Clemens Schoonderwoert

    Read this great book inn 2014, and its the 2nd volume of the wonderful Flavia Albia series. This tale is set in AD 89, and we find Flavia Albia once full into her investigating actions, looking for justice and truth. Among many new figures, some old familiar will come along too with the likes of Marcus Didius Falco and his family and friends, and they will make this mystery witty and intriguing. Once again the historical details has been thoroughly researched and used in this magnificent mystery. Th Read this great book inn 2014, and its the 2nd volume of the wonderful Flavia Albia series. This tale is set in AD 89, and we find Flavia Albia once full into her investigating actions, looking for justice and truth. Among many new figures, some old familiar will come along too with the likes of Marcus Didius Falco and his family and friends, and they will make this mystery witty and intriguing. Once again the historical details has been thoroughly researched and used in this magnificent mystery. The story itself is about the murder of two people at the local villa, and for Flavia Albia a new opportunity to prove herself as invetigator. Soon she will encounter and enter a web of lies and deceit, where even the household slaves, who can't defend themselves, are suspects, and in these circumstances she will try to get to the truth to establish the culprit. What is to follow is an intriguing and witty mystery full with action, where Flavia Albia will do her utmost to unravel these lies, and after some twists and turns she will finally get the result that she's looking for, and by doing so she saves the lives of innocent people and will the guilty one will be deservedly punished. Highly recommended, for this is an excellent addition to this amazing series, and that's why I like to call this episode: "A Fabulous Flavia Albia Sequel"!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Otherwyrld

    This is the second in the Flavia Albia stories and while it was better than the first book, I found myself still missing her father Falco in these stories. Flavia is hired to investigate the murder of a couple a few days after their wedding, and the theft of some valuable silverware. Suspicion naturally falls on the household slaves, but it is a far more complicated story than that, and she has to pick her way through a tangled web of lies and omissions to get to the truth. In some respect these This is the second in the Flavia Albia stories and while it was better than the first book, I found myself still missing her father Falco in these stories. Flavia is hired to investigate the murder of a couple a few days after their wedding, and the theft of some valuable silverware. Suspicion naturally falls on the household slaves, but it is a far more complicated story than that, and she has to pick her way through a tangled web of lies and omissions to get to the truth. In some respect these stories are darker and more angry than the Falco books as we, through the eyes of Flavia, are forced to confront the harsh realities of Roman life. As a woman, she struggles much more than her father did, but this pales by comparison with the lives of the slaves that we get to meet here. Most of them, it has to be said, will not come to a good end in this story, though to a certain extent they brought their doom upon themselves by not protecting their master in the first place, and then by lying about what really happened to the authorities. While I enjoyed this book, I still felt that it lacks a certain spark for the most part, and certainly is not in the same league as even the lesser Falco novels. There are a couple of occasions when promise is shown - one where a group of women sit around getting drunk together in defiance of all Roman convention, for example. The epilogue, in which the case has been solved (view spoiler)[only for Flavia to fall deathly ill and has to be nursed by her employer (hide spoiler)] , shows a lot more promise, so if the author can build on this then the series will be worth reading. I would also like to see a bit more about the politics of the time featured - Vespasian and Titus played a major part in the Falco stories, and I would like to read more about how Domitian affects the world in which this series is set. So, possibly 3 1/2 stars for this book.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Derek Farrell

    I LOVE the Flavia Alba stories, and suspect that LD is also enjoying being able to write as a woman. While there are lots of similarities between these and the Falco novels, and while the 'voice' is (unsurprisingly) basically the same one (understandable, as Flavia is Falco's daughter, and thus makes no attempt to hide the fact that many of her approaches and mannerisms are inherited from her father), what makes these novels as enjoyable as the Falcos is the slow development of the millieu around I LOVE the Flavia Alba stories, and suspect that LD is also enjoying being able to write as a woman. While there are lots of similarities between these and the Falco novels, and while the 'voice' is (unsurprisingly) basically the same one (understandable, as Flavia is Falco's daughter, and thus makes no attempt to hide the fact that many of her approaches and mannerisms are inherited from her father), what makes these novels as enjoyable as the Falcos is the slow development of the millieu around Flavia. Just as, in the beginning of the earlier series, we saw Falco's world expand from himself alone to him and Helena, then bringing in Petro, Falco's family, Anacrites, Flavia herself and onwards, so, with this series, one of the pleasures, for me, is the 'side' characters who you hope will return. Amongst them is Roscius, a swaggering, and potentially very dangerous gangster-in-training, and Dromo, a somewhat dopey slave that Albia's been saddled with. The whole story is about slaves, a desperate attempt to save a dozen of them from being executed when their master and mistress are strangled, and any misgivings I may have had about the conceit's similarities to Saylor's Roman Blood were absolutely forgotten by the end, which - in true Davis fashion - is absolutely tragic. It takes a while to get going, is very dialogue heavy, and (not-really-a-spoiler alert) doesn't have what you could call a feel-good ending, but these are the things I adore Lindsey Davis for, and I can't wait for the next Flavia Albia novel.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Danielle The Book Huntress

    This was a slow read for me, due to the tone and unfamiliar terms specific to this setting. I wish there was a glossary, because that would have facilitated my reading. However, I liked the vantage point of 1st century Rome, especially in a mystery format. Reviewed for Affaire de Coeur Magazine. http://affairedecoeur.com. This was a slow read for me, due to the tone and unfamiliar terms specific to this setting. I wish there was a glossary, because that would have facilitated my reading. However, I liked the vantage point of 1st century Rome, especially in a mystery format. Reviewed for Affaire de Coeur Magazine. http://affairedecoeur.com.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Alex in Spades

    4 The cup-bearer did it Stars Flavia Albia grew on me even more in this book. I enjoy her sense of humour, and her sarcastic commentary. I felt like this story was evenly paced, the murder case kept me engaged 'till the very end, becasue I honestly had no idea who killed. Also the blossoming romance between Flavia and Tiberius is warming my heart, ending made me swoon so hard. 4 The cup-bearer did it Stars Flavia Albia grew on me even more in this book. I enjoy her sense of humour, and her sarcastic commentary. I felt like this story was evenly paced, the murder case kept me engaged 'till the very end, becasue I honestly had no idea who killed. Also the blossoming romance between Flavia and Tiberius is warming my heart, ending made me swoon so hard.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Mieneke

    It’s once more unto the breech for Flavia Alba in the second book of her series, Enemies at Home. I enjoyed the first of this series, The Ides of April , but for some reason I never managed to fit in the next book onto the reviewing schedule. With book three in the series released last month, this historical fiction month seemed like a great time to catch up on both of the books. And I have to say I enjoyed Enemies at Home even more than I did The Ides of April.  What bothered me most about th It’s once more unto the breech for Flavia Alba in the second book of her series, Enemies at Home. I enjoyed the first of this series, The Ides of April , but for some reason I never managed to fit in the next book onto the reviewing schedule. With book three in the series released last month, this historical fiction month seemed like a great time to catch up on both of the books. And I have to say I enjoyed Enemies at Home even more than I did The Ides of April.  What bothered me most about the previous book was how modern Albia’s voice felt. This time around, whether because I was now used to Albia or because in the intermittent years I’ve read my books set in Roman times, Albia’s voice didn’t feel like a distraction in fact it was one of my favourite things about the narrative. Albia is distinctive and funny. Her acerbic wit and often somewhat snarky asides never failed to amuse me and I was greatly entertained by her narration of the story. Albia is still the headstrong, independent, fearless investigator we met in The Ides of April. She’s a very entertaining character and a keen observer of everything and everyone around her. What I like about Albia’s investigative style is that she isn’t given to Sherlockian flashes of genius insights, but to dogged persistence and logical thinking. The wonderful Aedile Manlius Faustus returns and this time he is Albia’s client, giving her the assignment of figuring out who murdered a newly-wed couple. I love the connection between Albia and Faustus, which is flirty and fun, but also based on genuine respect and friendship. In addition to Faustus and several other returning characters, we also meet some new characters. Chief amongst these is Dromo, a slave assigned by Faustus to protect Albia during her investigations. I thought he was a great character and he had some genuinely comic scenes, but also some of the most heartbreaking ones. Through him we learn more about Albia’s background, which might be old news for readers of Davis’ Falco series which is about Albia’s father, but for new readers makes for interesting reading. While The Ides of April was set in Albia’s home neighbourhood the Aventine, in Enemies at Home the action moves across town to the Esquiline. This meant that Albia is very much out of her comfort zone and lacking most of her usual contacts. The new stomping grounds in the Esquiline mean having to work twice as hard to find clues and figure out what happens and it shows off some of Albia’s strongest skills, especially the way she creates connections with people, other women in particular. There is one specific scene towards the end of the book where an impromptu gathering of women gives Albia the final pieces to solve the puzzle and I really loved the way Davis put that together. It also showed the silent power of Roman wives, be they powerful matriarchs or freedman’s wife. I appreciated Davis’ portrayal of the lives of Roman women and the surprising freedoms they had. Albia’s case in Enemies at Home is a tough one, that centres on the legal obligations of slaves to their masters and the powerless positions slaves found themselves in. Slavery is always a tough subject, because it is such a heinous institution. I had mixed feelings about its portrayal here, because Albia both acknowledges it is an awful practice, yet at the same time seems to casually accept it and expect the slaves she encounters to be resigned to their fates and serve their time until they are freed for good service, if they are that lucky at all. I found it confusing, though it could be interpreted as an illustration how ingrained the practice was in society and that even if one knows it is wrong and would like to change it, actually changing even one’s own attitude requires a lot of work and constant awareness of one’s thought patterns. In the end, Flavia Albia’s second outing was better for me than her first and I’m really looking forward to getting stuck into Deadly Election, Lindsey Davis’ latest instalment in the series. If you enjoy fun, witty, and smart female investigators, Flavia Albia is a protagonist you won’t want to miss and Enemies at Home is a great introduction to her. In fact, I might even recommend starting with this book instead of The Ides of April as it stands alone quite well and Albia hits her stride from the beginning. This book was provided for review by the publisher.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Karen Witzler

    This is the second of the Flavia Albia mysteries - Albia being the adopted daughter of Marcus Didius Falco and Helena Justina, protagonists of twenty previous Lindsey Davis mysteries set in Flavian Rome. Domitian is now in power and Albia has taken up both her father's trade as informer and his Aventine apartment. Davis seems to have found Albia's voice here and is gradually providing her with love interests, sidekicks, and contacts in the much darker post-Vespasian, post-Vesuvius Rome. Unlike t This is the second of the Flavia Albia mysteries - Albia being the adopted daughter of Marcus Didius Falco and Helena Justina, protagonists of twenty previous Lindsey Davis mysteries set in Flavian Rome. Domitian is now in power and Albia has taken up both her father's trade as informer and his Aventine apartment. Davis seems to have found Albia's voice here and is gradually providing her with love interests, sidekicks, and contacts in the much darker post-Vespasian, post-Vesuvius Rome. Unlike the first volume,in which they were sorely missed, we are now re-introduced to members of the extended Didius/Camillus family. The plot itself concerns slaves and slavery. I will happily seek out the third in the series. In the mean time, I may find my copy of The Silver Pigs and start all over - they are by far my favorite period mysteries and highly recommended.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Emma

    An absorbing and complex case for Flavia Albia. Davies is so good at the daily vernacular of everyday Roman life.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Simon Binning

    This is the second book in the series Lindsey Davis has created featuring Flavia Albia, the adopted daughter of her earlier hero, Falco. The first book firmly established Albia in her own right; smart, determined, and fiercely independent. Hardly has she recovered from the professional and personal issues surrounding her last case, when she is called in to investigate two deaths. A newly married couple have been found dead in their bed. Immediately afterwards, most of their household slaves claim This is the second book in the series Lindsey Davis has created featuring Flavia Albia, the adopted daughter of her earlier hero, Falco. The first book firmly established Albia in her own right; smart, determined, and fiercely independent. Hardly has she recovered from the professional and personal issues surrounding her last case, when she is called in to investigate two deaths. A newly married couple have been found dead in their bed. Immediately afterwards, most of their household slaves claim sanctuary in a local temple. The local magistrate - who Albia encountered in the first book - asks her to look into what happened. This makes for an interesting story. The laws around slaves who may have been involved in the death of their master or mistress were straightforward; and brutal. Designed for practical reasons - from the owners' point of view - to prevent such an event happening. But it meant that slaves had no way of defending themselves; evidence from a slave was only valid if it had been obtained under torture. Albia therefore has to work on two levels. Try to unravel the lives of the victims, their friends and their free household members. Then try to work out what the slaves fear and why they didn't defend their master and mistress during the attack that killed them. There are a lot of characters involved in this story. The victims have a number of friends and relations who might have benefitted from their deaths. And the slaves are a very mixed bunch; the newlyweds were in the process of merging their households, and everyone knew that meant some of the slaves would be surplus to requirements. The final element in the mix is the local crime family, who may - or may not - have been involved. To make life easy for herself, Albia moves temporarily into the house of the victims, along with Dromo, a slave of the magistrate, who is there for her protection. He is ever present through the rest of the story; useless, but dependable in his own way. He's the source of quite a bit of humour. Albia's growing relationship with the magistrate himself is also handled well, leaving you wondering where it might go. The story actually covers quite a lot of ground around Roman law; though never gets bogged down. Marriage contracts, guardianship, divorce, the status of slaves and freedmen. All interesting, and relevant to the story, but handled lightly. I learnt quite a lot without any pain! As always, with Lindsey Davis, the story rattles along at pace. New faces appear, but always with just enough detail to allow you to remember them with ease. She has a singular knack of handling a large cast list with aplomb, and avoiding any confusion. I thoroughly enjoyed this story from beginning to end. Albia is an interesting character; in some ways, she has more about her than her more famous father. Lindsey Davis seems to have been re-invigorated by writing stories from a different perspective. I wondered if taking a character from the Falco books to create a new lead would work, but after the first two books, I would have to say that it is working beautifully.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jeanette

    Fighting with myself to decide if I should rate this a 3 or a 4. And then the ending came and the 4 star won. Flavia Albia is far from perfect, but she does have her own style and intelligence over-driven personality. She's a young widow, not the normal "hot" chick lady detective favorite of any era. Falco never appears and Helena J. just at the end, so Flavia A. gets her full 300 plus page of working individually in the family business. The adile that hires her has potential too, on more than s Fighting with myself to decide if I should rate this a 3 or a 4. And then the ending came and the 4 star won. Flavia Albia is far from perfect, but she does have her own style and intelligence over-driven personality. She's a young widow, not the normal "hot" chick lady detective favorite of any era. Falco never appears and Helena J. just at the end, so Flavia A. gets her full 300 plus page of working individually in the family business. The adile that hires her has potential too, on more than several basis points. He's witty and he's fair in the societal context. There are also some under characters introduced that are priceless, like Dromo. Panther, the dog, was good too. My problem came only with the slight redundancy of information and the slowness of minutia for page upon page of rather insipid inquiry to the accused slaves' dialog. But even there, some of the asides and descriptive Flavia thoughts of evaluation made most of those readable. Just too slow for me to keep the higher interest, especially within the entire subplot to the slave who had just given birth. Being Rome in this era I give credit for the eventual outcome in this Davis reveal. As today, the most essential information is given up by/when perps are promised lighter sentences or freedom from prosecution. But being Rome, entire others of the accused often have extremely dire ends. As in all Lindsey Davis books, the only big complaint I have is the constant Roman roads direction and plotting of every walking route and journey. Just put in a map already or state you are going down a hill or by Temple of Ceres or something. This is too many pages to continually detail routing walks or chair rides. 3.5 star rounded to 4 because this new series will be full 4 star once Flavia context is just a bit more established. OH, I also loved the parts with her favorite Uncle and his wife. In the Falco books Helena's younger brother was always my favorite and here he is again. And he is a Senator with the purple stripe now too.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Peter Tillman

    My library copy came due. I'd read the first 3 or 4 chapters, and, well. I certainly didn't hate the book. It's pretty well-written, and better than the previous Lindsey Davis historical mysteries I'd tried. "The Silver Pig" was one, another DNF, lost interest. This one was recommended by a GR friend as worth a try, because they liked this series more than the original. Well, so do I -- but not enough to finish it, sadly. So I'm done with Lindsey Davis. Minority opinion, looks like. I like histo My library copy came due. I'd read the first 3 or 4 chapters, and, well. I certainly didn't hate the book. It's pretty well-written, and better than the previous Lindsey Davis historical mysteries I'd tried. "The Silver Pig" was one, another DNF, lost interest. This one was recommended by a GR friend as worth a try, because they liked this series more than the original. Well, so do I -- but not enough to finish it, sadly. So I'm done with Lindsey Davis. Minority opinion, looks like. I like historical fiction, but I'm lukewarm on whodunnits.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jemima Pett

    It was a mere moment to step back in time and gather myself into post-Falco mode after reading the 19th of his series. Flavia Alba’s home is the world of dust and corruption that is Rome. I had forgotten she had a potential love interest. Eventually I remembered how they’d encountered each other in book one. Pleasingly, the young man (Tiberius) is worthy of her, intelligent enough, independent enough, and useful enough. He is an aedile, which is a bit like a sheriff, I suppose, in the Roman hier It was a mere moment to step back in time and gather myself into post-Falco mode after reading the 19th of his series. Flavia Alba’s home is the world of dust and corruption that is Rome. I had forgotten she had a potential love interest. Eventually I remembered how they’d encountered each other in book one. Pleasingly, the young man (Tiberius) is worthy of her, intelligent enough, independent enough, and useful enough. He is an aedile, which is a bit like a sheriff, I suppose, in the Roman hierarchy. Like most of these books, a body appears, and the question is, how did it come to be there. The critical part of this plot is that under Roman law, slaves belonging to the deceased are put to death for failing to rush to protect him from his assailant. This leads to plenty of concern on Flavia’s part both for the determination of the truth, and the ethics of putting slaves to death merely for being slaves. We are treated to a full on Lindsey Davis investigation, full of beautifully written intrigue, twists, red herrings, and blind alleys. She draws us into the alleys and byways of Rome, and I occasionally wonder how she manages to inhabit this bygone world so fully that we can almost smell it with her. I love this writing, and this book is one of her best.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Nightwitch

    This was an interesting one - I admire the fact that Davis chose to grapple with slavery, which must surely be one of the more difficult aspects of ancient Roman life for a fiction writer: abhorrent to modern readers, it was taken for granted by Romans. That said, the end result is somewhat discomfiting. The narrator, Flavia Albia, narrowly escaped a life of slavery herself, and knows it; she does not have slaves and prefers to live independently. She is sympathetic to the concerns of slaves. At This was an interesting one - I admire the fact that Davis chose to grapple with slavery, which must surely be one of the more difficult aspects of ancient Roman life for a fiction writer: abhorrent to modern readers, it was taken for granted by Romans. That said, the end result is somewhat discomfiting. The narrator, Flavia Albia, narrowly escaped a life of slavery herself, and knows it; she does not have slaves and prefers to live independently. She is sympathetic to the concerns of slaves. At the same time, the narrative demands of the mystery mean that she can't be too sympathetic to the slaves, and that's where it starts to get dicey: Albia happily pals around with slave owners who complain about the bad attitude of a slave (who was, as Albia admits, forced into her owner's bed probably at puberty, bore him as many as ten children, had all of the children taken from her and sold off, then was scheduled to be sold off herself when her owner remarried), and dislikes the slave herself, in part because she keeps making eyes at men. Albia can't stand women like that, who rely on men for everything, who are not independent! Oh. Well, that's nice. Albia is a Roman citizen with a (probably ahistorically) loving and protective yet independence-granting family, so this is intensely grating to read, and the fact that Albia acknowledges how rough the slave had it doesn't actually help. The power differential makes it difficult to read the conflict neutrally. At the same time, Albia is sympathetic enough (and her voice and attitudes are modern enough) that I think we're supposed to read her as somehow better than the Romans who mistreat their slaves or take them for granted - but Davis doesn't pull that off. I almost wish she'd just gone whole hog and made Albia dislikeable in her attitude towards slaves. It's very difficult, from the mystery-reader perspective, to view a slave character the same way you view a free character, because the back stories and motivations are so horrifying to the modern reader that murder seems entirely justified. When the novel begins there is a temple full of slaves who are fleeing execution for not preventing the murder of their owners. I mean, from page one they're operating at a disadvantage that makes it hard to view them critically, and the free Romans are working within a system that is horrifyingly unfair. Yet the book read as though we were supposed to be reading these characters the same way we'd be reading, say, suspects in a Sherlock Holmes story - but Victorian servants, at least, would not be facing this kind of arbitrary execution, and at least hypothetically could find new employers. Awful though the situation of Victorian servants was, it's a different level of awful. This level of awful is so high that the narrative just didn't work for me. Like I said, interesting.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Karla Thomas

    Anything by Lindsey Davis is a must read for me, and I've never been disappointed. Yes, some are more satisfying than others, but they're all worth diving into. This is the second book following Flavia Albia. We know her from the Falco books, but in those she was a teenager and seen through the eyes of her father. She is a rather different person when you get into her own mind, and she's someone we can get as attached to as we are to Falco. The mystery was suitably intricate. I had now idea who t Anything by Lindsey Davis is a must read for me, and I've never been disappointed. Yes, some are more satisfying than others, but they're all worth diving into. This is the second book following Flavia Albia. We know her from the Falco books, but in those she was a teenager and seen through the eyes of her father. She is a rather different person when you get into her own mind, and she's someone we can get as attached to as we are to Falco. The mystery was suitably intricate. I had now idea who the murderer was until about the same time that Albia figured it out, which is the sign of a well-plotted mystery novel. I was also intrigued by the way the author managed to get inside the mindset of the character and her time period to present the entire issue of slavery as the Romans would have seen it, not with out modern attitudes. Albia recognizes when slaves are being treated badly because of her own difficult past, which brought her perilously close to that condition, and yet she still has the Roman attitude that if a slave is useless, the owner should sell him and be rid of the trouble. This flies in the face of everything our modern culture believes (or is supposed to believe), but because modern morality is not allowed to intrude, the narrative rings true. This is, first and foremost, a mystery novel, and it can be enjoyed as such. But readers who are more interested in characters and their development will be equally satisfied. Overlayering the puzzle is a very sweet, if very slowly developing, love story that is no less satisfying for the indications that it could take any number of books to bring to fruition. I look forward to seeing Albia and Faustus partner up again.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Marlene

    Originally published at Reading Reality The past is another country, they do things differently there – or so the saying goes. In my reading of this particular book, the saying can be interpreted more than one way. The Flavia Albia series is set in Imperial Rome in the year 89 AD, during the reign of the emperor Domitian. And I first encountered Flavia, or at least her adopted father Marcus Didius Falco, in the first book in his series, The Silver Pigs, 30 years ago, at a time when I had a one hou Originally published at Reading Reality The past is another country, they do things differently there – or so the saying goes. In my reading of this particular book, the saying can be interpreted more than one way. The Flavia Albia series is set in Imperial Rome in the year 89 AD, during the reign of the emperor Domitian. And I first encountered Flavia, or at least her adopted father Marcus Didius Falco, in the first book in his series, The Silver Pigs, 30 years ago, at a time when I had a one hour plus commute to and from work each day, and good, unabridged audiobooks were still pretty thin on the ground. Falco’s world-weary voice made a long journey shorter and considerably more entertaining. I welcomed Flavia Albia back into my reading life with all the enthusiasm of greeting a long-lost and much-missed friend. After all, she is a chip off the disreputable old block in all the best ways! Both Flavia and Falco were private informers and inquiry agents, in other words, private detectives, in an imperial Rome that for all of historical trappings feels a lot more contemporary than most readers probably expected. One of the things that this author does so well is to emphasize the things that we have in common, rather than the details that differentiate that time from our own. After all, Flavia and Falco are both paid to investigate wandering spouses and uncover criminal activity. While technology has changed a lot in the intervening millennia, it’s not difficult to get caught up in the writer’s interpretation that human nature hasn’t changed much, if at all, in that same period – if ever. But the setting does play its part. In this case, Flavia is hired by an up-and-coming official that she’s worked with before, Tiberius Manlius Faustus, on a case that she has to break all of her own rules to take – and almost immediately wishes that she hadn’t. Faustus has hired Albia to determine which, if any, of the slaves from the household of burgled and murdered newlyweds were culpable in the crime. If she can’t determine that some of them neither participated in the murder, nor the theft, nor sat back and allowed it all to happen while they stood idly by, they’ll all be killed in the Coliseum – as public fodder for the beasts. It’s clear from her initial interviews of the potential subjects that they are all hiding something. The question that Albia has to figure out is whether they’re merely covering up a bit of spiteful backbiting and petty thievery, or whether they are responsible for theft of a staggering – in more ways than one – amount of silver serving ware and the murder of their masters. Albia finds herself caught between the officials who want a quick solution, a criminal gang unwilling to take responsibility for a job they didn’t do, her own meddling uncles, neighbors who seem to have seen nothing and heard less, and a group of people who seem to be lying at every turn. Just as she decides that this is one case that she’s never going to solve, there’s another body. A body that can’t be laid at the feet of the original suspects, as Albia was interviewing them all at the time! Once the case breaks wide open, with Albia squarely on the scene this time, she finally has a chance to figure out what really happened the first time around. Before anyone else winds up dead – justly or not. Escape Rating A-: Slipping back into Albia’s world was like slipping into a warm bath or under a comfy blanket – in spite of the story being just chock full of lying witnesses, murder suspects and dead bodies. Mystery is a comfort read because it’s the romance of justice. More or less. It may start with a dead body, whether much lamented or completely unlamented, but it ends with good triumphing, or at least normal order prevailing, while evil, or at least misguided criminals, receive their just desserts. There are two things that make this series, as well as its predecessor featuring Albia’s father Falco. One is the first-person, cynical, sometimes world-weary voice of the protagonist. Admittedly, Falco was a bit more world-weary than Albia, but by the end of his series in Nemesis he was a bit older than Albia is here. Not that Albia is a newbie in either her work or her life, as this story opens she is 29, a widow with no children, and has been working in her father’s old profession for a number of years. She’s had plenty of time and experience to observe human behavior in all its ugliness to earn the wry cynicism in her perspective. Also, her world is a bit darker than her father’s and not just because there are more obstacles in her way as a woman doing a man’s job, or any job at all. The Emperor Vespasian, who Falco worked under and occasionally worked for, was a much different man than Domitian, the emperor of Albia’s time. For one thing, Vespasian was a soldier, a realist, and generally not insane. A condition that Domitian is heading towards by this point in history. Falco had friends in high places when he was a private informer, while during Albia’s time no one would want to have friends in those same places if they had any sense. Which she certainly does. The other thing that makes this series work is the way that the author brings the commonalities of life in Imperial Rome to life. It’s a big, complicated city, a center of government, a hive of activity. And in the complexities of life in a major metropolis, we see that some things are the same. People gossip about their neighbors. Divorces are more often acrimonious than friendly. Some people rub other people the wrong way. Life in a big city is portrayed as not all that different once you get past 20th or 21st century technology. Even though Albia doesn’t have contemporary forensics to help her solve this case, the things she does have to work with haven’t changed all that much. She has to examine the crime scene, interview the witnesses, interrogate the suspects, establish a timeline, pull together the evidence she does have and determine who is innocent and who is guilty. And we get vicarious pleasure in watching her do so, as well as observing the tentative steps she takes towards a relationship with Manlius. Something that we’ll see develop in later books in the series. I’m looking forward to Albia’s next case, Deadly Election, the next time I need to see someone receive their just desserts!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Selaine Henriksen

    In this, the second Flavia Albia novel (or Falco reboot), Lindsey Davis seems to have found Flavia's voice. Without the need for as much back story there is a better flow. The plot was okay; I figured out who dunnit fairly quickly, although I was surprised by the ending. I like the pace; we know Flavia and Faustus are meant for each other but she's taking her time and I'll certainly read more installments to see how they get together. I'm especially excited for Faustus and Falco to meet. I imagi In this, the second Flavia Albia novel (or Falco reboot), Lindsey Davis seems to have found Flavia's voice. Without the need for as much back story there is a better flow. The plot was okay; I figured out who dunnit fairly quickly, although I was surprised by the ending. I like the pace; we know Flavia and Faustus are meant for each other but she's taking her time and I'll certainly read more installments to see how they get together. I'm especially excited for Faustus and Falco to meet. I imagine that won't happen soon. Falco could easily dominate the story. I want to see Falco through Flavia and Fautus' eyes. Definitely a good second book in the series and I am looking forward to more.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Rachel Hartman

    Lindsey Davis is my guilty pleasure -- yes, well-researched and cerebral, these books are still like candy to me. I enjoyed this much more than the first Flavia Albia book. It took Davis a while to relax into Flavia's voice, I think, and it took me a while to accept the idea that there isn't going to be much Falco (or Helena Justina!) in these books. Lindsey Davis is my guilty pleasure -- yes, well-researched and cerebral, these books are still like candy to me. I enjoyed this much more than the first Flavia Albia book. It took Davis a while to relax into Flavia's voice, I think, and it took me a while to accept the idea that there isn't going to be much Falco (or Helena Justina!) in these books.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Cel Jel

    I listened to the audio book and then at the end when I did not want to wait to drive again transferred to the book. I really enjoyed the sense of life in Rome and the way in which customs were explained without being too overwhelming, but fitting in with the story. Lovely, really lovely.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    An excellent, clever Roman whodunnit with a strong and likeable heroine, packed full of details about daily life in ancient Rome.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Donna

    For being Ancient Rome, this had a contemporary feel (which worked for me).

  21. 4 out of 5

    Eden

    2021 bk 246. A newlywed couple is murdered. Their house slaves fled to a temple for sanctuary. (Roman slaves could be put to death for not going to their owner's aid.) What are two aediles to do. When a murder involves 2 districts and the temple is in Flavia Albia's, then her friend calls her in to help. Moving into the strange house to provide more ease in conducting the investigation, she encounters suspicion, fear, bland assessment, and tangled up relationships that have to be first sorted ou 2021 bk 246. A newlywed couple is murdered. Their house slaves fled to a temple for sanctuary. (Roman slaves could be put to death for not going to their owner's aid.) What are two aediles to do. When a murder involves 2 districts and the temple is in Flavia Albia's, then her friend calls her in to help. Moving into the strange house to provide more ease in conducting the investigation, she encounters suspicion, fear, bland assessment, and tangled up relationships that have to be first sorted out. Finding the truth behind the lies and looking for the not-so-obvious allows Albia the chance to sort out her own thoughts on marriage, slavery ownership/ responsibility, and allows us a closer look at the workings of a Roman home.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Nancy

    Like the first book, this was not what you might call a page-turner; it takes its time. There is a big knot of confusion about the crime that slowly begins to come loose for Albia. I enjoyed the journey and untangling because I enjoy these characters and the writing. The resolution of the case is not necessarily happy, but satisfying. The historical setting is interesting in its difference from most historical fiction I read: Ancient Rome (AD 89) as opposed to periods closer to and around Victori Like the first book, this was not what you might call a page-turner; it takes its time. There is a big knot of confusion about the crime that slowly begins to come loose for Albia. I enjoyed the journey and untangling because I enjoy these characters and the writing. The resolution of the case is not necessarily happy, but satisfying. The historical setting is interesting in its difference from most historical fiction I read: Ancient Rome (AD 89) as opposed to periods closer to and around Victorian England. A bit of profanity; sexual talk but nothing other than a kiss on page; slavery; non graphic violence.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Diane McKenzie

    Flavia Albia is a strong female character who survived childhood tragedy and then was adopted into the Falco family who gave her further strength with love as their daughter. Add her natural spunk, curiosity, her ability to work well with Faustus, a plebeian aedile, and sit back for a well written complicated murder mystery set in Ancient Rome.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Chris F

    Enjoyable, but not her very best,

  25. 5 out of 5

    Lisanne

    Truly a better-written book compared to The third Nero! My only problem was with how it ended... I found it to be quite random considering the rest of the story. Loved the short chapters. As well as the mystery as to who murdered the newly wedded couple! All in all a lovely read.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Peat

    I'd steered clear of this series, being a little tired with the Falco series by the end, but I saw this in the library and thought "Why not?" I'm glad I did, at the core Davis is just very good at what she does. Some of the latter day Falco problems remained i.e. too much soap opera and not enough drama, but the different voice was a refreshing change. Nearly gave it a 5, but the fact I'm not rushing out to get the rest tells its own story. Ah... screw it, 5. I'd steered clear of this series, being a little tired with the Falco series by the end, but I saw this in the library and thought "Why not?" I'm glad I did, at the core Davis is just very good at what she does. Some of the latter day Falco problems remained i.e. too much soap opera and not enough drama, but the different voice was a refreshing change. Nearly gave it a 5, but the fact I'm not rushing out to get the rest tells its own story. Ah... screw it, 5.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Iset

    This is my second Flavia Albia mystery, having read the previous book shortly before this one, but otherwise being new to Lindsey Davis’ mysteries and not having read her infamous Didius Falco series as I’m sure many readers of this spin-off will have. I have to say, I definitely liked Enemies at Home more than I liked The Ides of April. Whilst I found the opener to the series solid and entertaining, I easily guessed the mystery, the resolution relied too much on character stupidity for my taste This is my second Flavia Albia mystery, having read the previous book shortly before this one, but otherwise being new to Lindsey Davis’ mysteries and not having read her infamous Didius Falco series as I’m sure many readers of this spin-off will have. I have to say, I definitely liked Enemies at Home more than I liked The Ides of April. Whilst I found the opener to the series solid and entertaining, I easily guessed the mystery, the resolution relied too much on character stupidity for my taste, the pacing was a little off with too much aftermath spent on catching the perpetrator, and at times certain anachronistic turns of phrase niggled. Not so in Enemies at Home. Here the new series seems to have hit its stride. Flavia Albia’s first person narrative voice is just as sardonic and direct as ever, but I’m used to it now, and the sole jarring note in the entire book this time was the use of “perps” again – it just immediately brings to mind CSI: Ancient Rome trying too hard to be slick. And this time I didn’t guess the whodunit in advance, though admittedly I had marked that character as on my shortlist of suspects, but the reveal was not telegraphed in advance and right up until it occurred I was still mulling over a shortlist rather than having pegged one character. This meant that for me the mystery maintained itself throughout, and I enjoyed the read a lot more. Even better, the continuation of the mystery, and the resolution, did not rely on the character stupidity of Albia. In The Ides of April I felt that Albia missed obvious signs that to me identified the killer way before she clued in, and the ultimate confrontation felt again contrived due to her own stupidity. Whilst I liked Albia as a character otherwise, I didn’t like the plot reliance on her stupidity in that instance – it felt contrived and certainly didn’t endear me to the protagonist. In Enemies at Home the spooling out of the mystery and the way in which it is resolved was mercifully absent of character stupidity. Albia feels sharp on the case in this one, and resolves the mystery as fast as circumstances allow. The pacing felt tighter too; the big reveal, not being telegraphed in advance, occurs around the 90% mark, with the final 10% devoted to aftermath, and that felt just right to me. In short, all the niggles I had with the previous book are pretty much eliminated here. That said, Enemies at Home still isn’t life-changing literature. It isn’t magnificently written with beautiful flair, nor does it have an epic scope that sweeps me away in its grandeur, nor does it move me with its depth of insight into character. But it is quietly clever, and witty, and funny, and kind of charming. There was one moment where I didn't like Faustus' judgmental attitude - an odd moment since I've come to rather like this character as one of the few truly decent people in the series - and in the aftermath section I felt it could have ended with the case all wrapped up but there is an extra bit which I felt was a little bit tacked on to develop a relationship that otherwise doesn't progress too much during the course of Enemies at Home. I did like the mix of characters Davis introduces in this one. One of the reasons the mystery remains fairly well hidden until the reveal in this one is that the group of people surrounding the dead couple are such an eclectic bunch. Each has their own angle and objectives, and it’s difficult to judge which, if any, of the accused group Albia is presented with initially is the actual murderer. It's not quite in my must-read circle yet, but I'd be happy to read more of Flavia Albia's adventures in future. 8 out of 10

  28. 5 out of 5

    Nathan Albright

    If the Flavia Albia mystery series is inaugurated with a novel that reflects on the role of gender in dealing with Roman society and its occasional benefits in solving crimes and dealing with other women, this novel presents yet more social issues for the author to deal with when it comes to the problems of slavery.  As an American reader, I am used to dealing with fiction (and nonfiction) that deals sympathetically with the plight of slaves and with the danger that slaveowners faced as a result If the Flavia Albia mystery series is inaugurated with a novel that reflects on the role of gender in dealing with Roman society and its occasional benefits in solving crimes and dealing with other women, this novel presents yet more social issues for the author to deal with when it comes to the problems of slavery.  As an American reader, I am used to dealing with fiction (and nonfiction) that deals sympathetically with the plight of slaves and with the danger that slaveowners faced as a result of their iniquitous tyranny over other men and women and their dependence on such labor at home.  And so it is that the novelist, obviously aware of the massive social issues of the Roman Empire and the fear that slaves would rise up and murder their masters.  This fear was one that all slave societies have possessed, from Nazi Germany and the gulag or laogai archipelagos to the antebellum South.  However much masters may mouth platitudes about the love and trust of their human property, the fear was there that their trusted slaves who bathed them and slept with them and cooked their food and did various other jobs would turn on them. And that is precisely the mystery we find here.  When newlyweds are found naked and strangled in their beds at night, suspicion immediately falls upon their slaves, who escape to sanctuary.  The local aedile, which perhaps can be considered as a police chief of sorts, if one wants to translate it to contemporary American terms, hires Flavia to investigate the case.  The slaves cast aspersion on a local criminal operation which is told to have robbed the place, but they plead innocence while engaging in gangland violence that attacks Flavia's uncles, who happen to be both brilliant attorneys and Senators, threatening the wrath of the Roman establishment on generally tolerated local criminality.  And the slaves try to stick to their story even in the face of contradictions and unpleasant realities, until Flavia is able to uncover most of the reality and wrestle with the reality of slavery in the whiny Dromo who follows her around for safety as a temporary body servant.  And, of course, we not only witness Flavia's insight in solving a theft and series of murders (and a suicide) but also her lapses in judgment that endanger her life. It is to the benefit of many readers that the author chose to write novels rather than screeds against the injustices of this and every age.  All too often writers assume that others, especially privileged white males who have a fondness for classical Greece and Rome, are the sort of people who need to be attacked for some sort of unenlightened beliefs and opinions about others.  Yet this novel does not attack its reader, but rather exposes the reader to moral complexities, including the way that masters use slaves as concubines to fulfill sexual lusts, and the way that slaves (and freedmen) are often ignorant of what is in their best interests and guilty of acting in ways or encouraging behaviors that threaten such security as they can have in the context of the unjust and unstable systems of slavery that have existed throughout history.  And rather than attacking readers, the author (correctly) assumes that the reader will have a great deal of sympathy for an intelligent but flawed heroine and for slaves who desire dignity but who find themselves imperiled by the system of slavery that denies their humanity and that places them in great harm of sexual and physical and emotional violence at home.  Every master feared enemies at home, but every slave had them by virtue of being a slave.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Agnesxnitt

    Since I stumbled on the original Falco novels by the same author after listening to the BBC Radio adaptions (thank you BBC Radio 4 Extra!), I was intrigued by the idea of Falco and Helena Justina's daughter taking up the family profession of informer/private investigator. A young widow of 29 when we first meet her, Flavia Albia in the adopted daughter of our original Roman mismatched couple, whom they found and rescued from an abusive adoptive family whilst on a 'case' in Britain. Flavia has bee Since I stumbled on the original Falco novels by the same author after listening to the BBC Radio adaptions (thank you BBC Radio 4 Extra!), I was intrigued by the idea of Falco and Helena Justina's daughter taking up the family profession of informer/private investigator. A young widow of 29 when we first meet her, Flavia Albia in the adopted daughter of our original Roman mismatched couple, whom they found and rescued from an abusive adoptive family whilst on a 'case' in Britain. Flavia has been widowed for ten years now, and the first novel in this new series, The Ides of April, introduced us gently to her as a complete person without overloading the reader with everything you need to know about her in one go. Lindsey Davies is a skilled hand, giving you just enough details at a time to keep you reading keenly, but without overloading you with information and characters. ***SPOILER ALERT*** In TDOA, Flavia was hired by a local well connected aedile (a Roman magistrate responsible for infrastructure works in a specified part of Rome, public games and the supply of corn to the city) named Manlius Faustus, in order to investigate the mysterious sudden deaths of seemingly unconnected and unoffensive citizens. During that case, Faustus (apparently in Rome men were called by their family name rather than their given/Christian names) wasn't entirely honest with Flavia, pretending he was an investigator FOR Faustus. Whilst working together, initially acrimoniously until Flavia, a spirited and determined woman who is not afraid to stand up for herself, drove a skewer through the back of his hand when he pushed her too far, they built up a more profitable working relationship from then onwards -based on wary respect for her skills on Faustus' side and grudging respect on both sides. At the end of that case, as Shakespeare would put it, Faustus 'uncovered' his true identity which rather put a spoke in the wheels of the frisson that was starting to build between the two. An aedile, albeit divorced with an embittered ex-wife still riding high in polite society, can't possibly be romantically involved with a female informer - for a start, Flavia knows she would *never* live it down with her esteemed parents... In this next novel, Faustus hires Flavia to investigate the violent deaths of a newly married couple on their bridal night in their own beds. The household slaves fled the property to seek sanctuary in the Temple of Ceres - Roman law holding that if slaves failed to save or step in to protect their owners lives made their own lives forfeit as a result. Faustus loans Flavia one of his own slaves, the sulky teenage Dromo, as protection and a messenger between his office and her investigation, though he takes a very keen interest himself. Flavia turns to her uncles, both lawyers though with a less than harmonious working relationship, for advice and guidance on the finer points of the law, and sets out to find out who, why, when and how. The path to the truth is twisting and twisted as each of the parties involved seems to have their own agenda, and the gap between the owners and slaves becomes increasingly acrimonious. A really good read - looking forward to the next one 'Deadly Election'!

  30. 4 out of 5

    Larry

    This is quite an excellent book. Davis sets up the situation and the characters in a very workmanlike manner. Her heroine, Flavia Albia, is engaging, and well rounded. The theme that she develops seems to spring, organically from the plot. Or, she is such a master that she had the theme to begin with and formed the plot around it. I was pleased to predict the final, nearly fatal predicament that Flavia would be put into. My only quibble is that the development of the romantic interest is so slow This is quite an excellent book. Davis sets up the situation and the characters in a very workmanlike manner. Her heroine, Flavia Albia, is engaging, and well rounded. The theme that she develops seems to spring, organically from the plot. Or, she is such a master that she had the theme to begin with and formed the plot around it. I was pleased to predict the final, nearly fatal predicament that Flavia would be put into. My only quibble is that the development of the romantic interest is so slow, and must, necessarily, be spread out over many novels in the series. I liked this much more than the first novel in the series. I have put the next two on reserve at my public library. Update: Now that I have finished the Didius Falco series, I have started over on the Flavia Albia series. And yes! I stand by my original review. This is a cracking good story. There is particular pleasure in re-reading this book. Because I know how it comes out, I could observe the masterful way Davis laid out the events, the relationships, and the order in which facts are revealed. A detail noted at the beginning, which complicates the life of the household throughout the novel, is critically important to the final resolution of the book. It is very satisfying.

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