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A Body in the Bathhouse

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The thirteenth novel featuring sleuth Marcus Didius Falco explores the fervor of home improvement that's sweeping the Roman Empire and Falco's own household, specifically the bathhouse--where a body turns up.Some things never change. With his new villa, Falco also gets a timeless headache: building contractors. After the departure of two shady plasterers, a rank odor in th The thirteenth novel featuring sleuth Marcus Didius Falco explores the fervor of home improvement that's sweeping the Roman Empire and Falco's own household, specifically the bathhouse--where a body turns up.Some things never change. With his new villa, Falco also gets a timeless headache: building contractors. After the departure of two shady plasterers, a rank odor in the bathhouse soon leads to the discovery of a corpse under the mosaic floor. Should Falco follow the culprits to remote Britannica? Despite the British weather (damp), the inhabitants (barbarians), and the wine (second-rate), Falco takes his whole family and goes. In veritas, Falco has another, secret reason for this exodus--his sister Maia has rejected the affection of a powerful Roman official, who vows brutal revenge. Now to protect those he loves, Falco must outrun an imperial enemy with a very long--and very deadly--reach.


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The thirteenth novel featuring sleuth Marcus Didius Falco explores the fervor of home improvement that's sweeping the Roman Empire and Falco's own household, specifically the bathhouse--where a body turns up.Some things never change. With his new villa, Falco also gets a timeless headache: building contractors. After the departure of two shady plasterers, a rank odor in th The thirteenth novel featuring sleuth Marcus Didius Falco explores the fervor of home improvement that's sweeping the Roman Empire and Falco's own household, specifically the bathhouse--where a body turns up.Some things never change. With his new villa, Falco also gets a timeless headache: building contractors. After the departure of two shady plasterers, a rank odor in the bathhouse soon leads to the discovery of a corpse under the mosaic floor. Should Falco follow the culprits to remote Britannica? Despite the British weather (damp), the inhabitants (barbarians), and the wine (second-rate), Falco takes his whole family and goes. In veritas, Falco has another, secret reason for this exodus--his sister Maia has rejected the affection of a powerful Roman official, who vows brutal revenge. Now to protect those he loves, Falco must outrun an imperial enemy with a very long--and very deadly--reach.

30 review for A Body in the Bathhouse

  1. 4 out of 5

    Martin

    For all those people, who have hired master craftsmen promising good quality work, quickly completed. Then watched their house being slowly demolished by workers who are never on site when you complain. This story is for you. Falco's new house has a body in the bathhouse. And its only the beginning of a murder/mystery for our Roman detective. image: It started with a smell But for Rhea Favonia, we might have lived with it. “There’s a smell! There’s a horrible smell. I’m not going in there!” I didn’t n For all those people, who have hired master craftsmen promising good quality work, quickly completed. Then watched their house being slowly demolished by workers who are never on site when you complain. This story is for you. Falco's new house has a body in the bathhouse. And its only the beginning of a murder/mystery for our Roman detective. image: It started with a smell But for Rhea Favonia, we might have lived with it. “There’s a smell! There’s a horrible smell. I’m not going in there!” I didn’t need to be an informer to know we were stuck. When a four-year-old girl reckons she has detected something nasty, you just give in and look for it. My little niece would not go near the bathhouse until we proved there was nothing horrible in the caldarium. The more we scoffed and told her the hot room was only smelly because of its new plaster, the more Rhea screamed hysterically at bathtime. There was nothing visible, and the rest of us tried to ignore it. But the child’s insistence unsettled everyone. There was a faint odor. If I tried sniffing it out, I lost it. When I decided there had been nothing, straightaway I smelled it again. Bringing up children It had already been a hard winter. For most of it, Helena Justina had been pregnant with our second child. She suffered more than with the first, while I struggled to let her rest by looking after our firstborn, Julia. As queen of the household, Julia was establishing her authority that year. I had the bruises to prove it. I had gone deaf too; she enjoyed testing her lungs. Our dark-haired moppet could put on a burst of speed any stadium sprinter would envy, especially as she toddled towards a fiercely steaming stockpot or darted down our steps onto the roadway. Even dumping her on female relations was out; her favorite game lately was breaking vases. image: The new live-in nurse maid Hyspale had not approved when Helena Justina abandoned her smart senatorial home to live with an informer. She came to us with great reluctance. It was made clear at our first interview (she interviewed us, of course) that Hyspale expected a room of her own in a respectable dwelling, the right to more time off than time on duty, use of the family carrying chair to protect her modesty on shopping trips, and the occasional treat of a ticket for the theater, or better still a pair of tickets so she could go with a friend. She would not accept being quizzed on the sex or identity of the friend. At the beginning of a voyage to Britain we see a dockside farewell “We’re moving already!” Aelianus cried excitedly. Foreboding struck me. A panicky commotion was already telling me the worst: the captain had cast off and sailed out of Portus. Unluckily, he did so while Maia was still on board with us. My sister was now straining at the rail, ready to throw herself over like a naiad crazed by too much sun and foam. I had never seen Maia so hysterical. She was shrieking that she had been taken from her children. Only real force from Justinus, who had grasped the situation in his quick style and then grabbed Maia, stopped her trying to hurl herself overboard to get back to shore. Like me, she had never learned to swim. I leaned on the rail and stared back at the quayside. There indeed were Maia’s four young children. Marius, Cloelia, and Ancus stood in a solemn line togther; they seemed to be calmly waving us good-bye. Rhea was held up in the arms of Petronius Longus as if to get a better view of her mother being abducted. An extra small dot must be Marius’ puppy sitting quietly on his lead. Petronius, who could have tried commandeering a boat to chase after us, was just standing there. “My children! Take me back to my children! My darlings; whatever will become of them without me? They will all be terrified—” The neatly lined-up little figures were all looking quite unperturbed. So that's how you escape from a stalker My sister was being removed from the reach of Anacrites. Somebody had set this up, whether Maia liked it or not. My guess was Helena. Petronius and even Maia’s children might have conspired too. Only Helena could have invented the scheme and paid for it. Maia was unlikely to see the real truth. Once she had calmed down and started to work this out, then I, her utterly blameless brother, would end up being blamed. image: While investigating the embezzlement at the British king's building site and the unexplained deaths Falco must still track down the bathhouse builders (and murders). Excitement, family life and dangers are all mixed into this cozy murder/mystery. Enjoy!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jeff Dickison

    This is a good entry in the Marcus Didius Falco series. Falco returns to Britain at Vespasian's request to oversee the building of a villa of a Roman friend. As always, there is a lot of humor in the storyline, but this one also has some swordplay in a more serious vein. Recommended to anyone, but especially to Falco fans. This is a good entry in the Marcus Didius Falco series. Falco returns to Britain at Vespasian's request to oversee the building of a villa of a Roman friend. As always, there is a lot of humor in the storyline, but this one also has some swordplay in a more serious vein. Recommended to anyone, but especially to Falco fans.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Susana

    3,5 stars This is one of my favorite series. The main characters (Marcus Didius Falco and Helena Justina) are in fact, one of my all time favorite couples, so it's always great to read a book that features them.I feel like i know them for more than a decade now. :) The banter and witty comments that the characters exchange, were as always a pleasure to read. It would however be a greater pleasure of mine, if this series would once again start being translated to portuguese...oh, how i miss thee!! 3,5 stars This is one of my favorite series. The main characters (Marcus Didius Falco and Helena Justina) are in fact, one of my all time favorite couples, so it's always great to read a book that features them.I feel like i know them for more than a decade now. :) The banter and witty comments that the characters exchange, were as always a pleasure to read. It would however be a greater pleasure of mine, if this series would once again start being translated to portuguese...oh, how i miss thee!! (as happened with the first five books of this series) And if that hipotethic translation (can't blame me for trying!) turned out to be anything like the first ones( that were perfect!)they would save me a lot of trouble!! I love reading these books, but reading them in english, is complicated! lol I'll just say, that the language is very rich, very rich indeed....and that the author has a wicked sense of humour, that forces me to use my dictionary all to often!! If i didn't i wouldn't understand half the jokes! Regarding the story, well there were parts that i trully enjoyed, and others that... not so much...like Falco, i'm also tired of the Britain setting... Even so, i'm looking forward in reading the next volumes of the series, and reading about Marcus Didius Falco adventures....and troubles!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Alex in Spades

    As always Falco's cynicism and him being a trouble magnet made for one entertaining story. As much as I adore the ancient Rome setting, I was happy to see this bunch on a adventure in Britain. I adore how Falco despises everything about this place (it always makes me laugh). In this one the dead bodies were on the heavy side. I was not expecting so many deaths. But where Falco goes the death follows. This was one exciting story and I can't wait to read the next one. As always Falco's cynicism and him being a trouble magnet made for one entertaining story. As much as I adore the ancient Rome setting, I was happy to see this bunch on a adventure in Britain. I adore how Falco despises everything about this place (it always makes me laugh). In this one the dead bodies were on the heavy side. I was not expecting so many deaths. But where Falco goes the death follows. This was one exciting story and I can't wait to read the next one.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Clemens Schoonderwoert

    Read this book on 2014, and its the 13th volume of the wonderful Marcus Didius Falco series! Set in the year AD 75, Falco has not only problems with building contractors but also with the Imperial Chief Spy, Anacrites. At first after supposedly finishing Falco's new home the contractors leave a bath house with a corpse in it, and the guilty contractors, Gloccus and Cotta, have fled to britain. As it happens in the south of Britain the King Togidubnus of the Atrebates tribe is having his own makeove Read this book on 2014, and its the 13th volume of the wonderful Marcus Didius Falco series! Set in the year AD 75, Falco has not only problems with building contractors but also with the Imperial Chief Spy, Anacrites. At first after supposedly finishing Falco's new home the contractors leave a bath house with a corpse in it, and the guilty contractors, Gloccus and Cotta, have fled to britain. As it happens in the south of Britain the King Togidubnus of the Atrebates tribe is having his own makeover in building his new Palace , and the costs in materiel, personnel and supposedly accidental deaths are to be paid by Emperor Vespasian. The Governor of Britain, Frontinus, is asking for someone to investigate all these deadly incidents during these works, and Falco and his family, with a new baby, are summoned to Britain, and for Falco although he hates Britain its a relief to be away from the clutches of the Imperial Chief Spy, Anacrites. Once in Britain, Falco starts to investigate and will come into several sinister and dangerous situations, before finally being able to overcome the culprits in the end, who were also trying to take his life and that of his little family. Very much recommended, for this is another astounding addition to this great series, and that's why I like to call this episode: "A Very Entertaining Bath House Investigation"!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Assaph Mehr

    Falco explores the building and construction trade. In the first novel in the Falco series set in Britannia, Falco chases a murderer and gets a look at the construction of a new palatial mansion in the countryside (based on the archaeological ruins at Fishbourne). Expect some emotional dramas as Falco's private life is a constant sub-plot, and some examination of Roman dentistry. The main focus, however, is on the construction industry. From Falco's new home's bath, to the grand palace for a local Falco explores the building and construction trade. In the first novel in the Falco series set in Britannia, Falco chases a murderer and gets a look at the construction of a new palatial mansion in the countryside (based on the archaeological ruins at Fishbourne). Expect some emotional dramas as Falco's private life is a constant sub-plot, and some examination of Roman dentistry. The main focus, however, is on the construction industry. From Falco's new home's bath, to the grand palace for a local dignitary in Britain. Amongst all the plot twists and turns you will learn a lot about how those grand Roman ruins were put up in the first place. Be aware that while it's not necessary to read the books in order, it certainly helps - certainly so far into the series. -- Assaph Mehr, author of Murder In Absentia: A story of Togas, Daggers, and Magic - for lovers of Ancient Rome, Murder Mysteries, and Urban Fantasy.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Trish

    In the beginning it was difficult to keep the Latin names straight but Davis almost always iterates their position. It was interesting to see how many crews and people were involved in building Roman "mansions". I thought Falc0 and Helena vowed to never return to England where they first met, but fate sends them there. This time with their 2 children, Helena's 2 brothers plus Falco's nephew to assist Falco, and Falco's sister, Maia without her children, to keep her safe from Anacrites. In the beginning it was difficult to keep the Latin names straight but Davis almost always iterates their position. It was interesting to see how many crews and people were involved in building Roman "mansions". I thought Falc0 and Helena vowed to never return to England where they first met, but fate sends them there. This time with their 2 children, Helena's 2 brothers plus Falco's nephew to assist Falco, and Falco's sister, Maia without her children, to keep her safe from Anacrites.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Marcus

    Here's the dilema of investing time in long-running book cycles - sooner or later they start loosing steam and should be abandoned, but you keep on picking up next book in the series simply out of habit and because the characters have become your friends. 'A Body in the Bathhouse' is a proof to that little theory of mine - the plot is only mildly interesting (although it is better than in last couple of preceding volumes) and if forced to depend on its own merits, it is a rather unremarkable boo Here's the dilema of investing time in long-running book cycles - sooner or later they start loosing steam and should be abandoned, but you keep on picking up next book in the series simply out of habit and because the characters have become your friends. 'A Body in the Bathhouse' is a proof to that little theory of mine - the plot is only mildly interesting (although it is better than in last couple of preceding volumes) and if forced to depend on its own merits, it is a rather unremarkable book. But since Marcus, Helena and their families are by now your close friends, you don't really mind reading about the problems with the construction of their new villa or troublesome freed-woman they hired as a nanny. :-) In other words, if you're new to the cycle, don't pick this one as your starting point. You'll get bored, confused and you'll wonder what's the fuss about Falco-books is all about. Find 'Silver pigs' and you'll get here eventually. As for the rest of us poor sods... well, maybe it's not the best volume in the series, but you'll read it and you'll enjoy it, whether you want to or not. :)

  9. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Burton

    The one at Fishbourne Palace with the dodgy workmen and the irritating nanny.

  10. 5 out of 5

    B.R. Stateham

    Always good to go back and re-read a favorite. If you haven't met 'Falco' you should. A genuinely interesting character. Always good to go back and re-read a favorite. If you haven't met 'Falco' you should. A genuinely interesting character.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jamie Collins

    2.5 stars. I always enjoy reading about Marcus Didius Falco and his family, but this isn't one of my favorites in this series, and it's not a particularly intriguing murder mystery. I find that I usually prefer the Falco adventures which take place in Rome. After Falco discovers the titular body in his new bathhouse, he accepts an assignment from the emperor to investigate corruption at a huge building site in Britain. Falco suspects that his wretched bathhouse contractors might have absconded th 2.5 stars. I always enjoy reading about Marcus Didius Falco and his family, but this isn't one of my favorites in this series, and it's not a particularly intriguing murder mystery. I find that I usually prefer the Falco adventures which take place in Rome. After Falco discovers the titular body in his new bathhouse, he accepts an assignment from the emperor to investigate corruption at a huge building site in Britain. Falco suspects that his wretched bathhouse contractors might have absconded there, and anyway he wants to get his widowed sister out of town to protect her from the attentions of that villain Anacrites. The building site is the Roman Palace at Fishbourne, the remains of which were discovered in 1960 on the southern coast of England. Much of the humor in the book is based on the presumed universal constants of crooked contractors, idle or absent construction workers, and disputes between labor forces (in this case imported labor vs. the local British workforce). At one point Falco obliquely describes the horrid death of one of those crooked contractors: "I mention it purely to give comfort to those of you who have found raw sewage backing up a waste pipe in your new caldarium, three days after your contractors vanished off the site." At the end of the book I was a bit fuzzy on who actually committed the murders and why, and I didn't care enough to spend more time trying to puzzle it out. Falco's narrative continues to be amusing, though, and I appreciate the historical details.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Simon Binning

    I am a fan of the Falco series, but I struggled with this volume. I think there are a few reasons for this; firstly, the story itself was rather tame - nefarious goings-on at a building site in Britannia, which Falco is sent to sort out. It is all rather straightforward stuff, without the twists and turns that normally follow Falco. Secondly, there are too many personal strands stretched out around this thin plot; too many of Falco's family end up going with him, and he even comes across the mis I am a fan of the Falco series, but I struggled with this volume. I think there are a few reasons for this; firstly, the story itself was rather tame - nefarious goings-on at a building site in Britannia, which Falco is sent to sort out. It is all rather straightforward stuff, without the twists and turns that normally follow Falco. Secondly, there are too many personal strands stretched out around this thin plot; too many of Falco's family end up going with him, and he even comes across the missing bath house builders from the previous story. But I think the major problem for me was that time and place were completely lacking. When set in Rome, Davis has built a well-drawn world for Falco to inhabit; over the course of the series, I have come to believe in the places that he visits. Here, in a new location, there was really no attempt to draw us into the location or the local people. It could have been set just about anywhere, anytime. It is a problem I have had in the series before when Falco went abroad - particularly to Spain - yet other volumes in far-flung places - Germania, Petra - have worked well. Perhaps the author was more confident in certain areas, but, for me, it led to a rather pedestrian read.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Loni

    Dirty diapers and double dealing. Really funny, well paced, and historically accurate with great details. Falco, the main character is witty without being overly quippy smarty toga. You have like a 'Man from Rome' who brings his wife, 2 small children, dog, nephews, lusty yet lazy Freedwoman and angry sister on a long trip by ship to the newly Romanized British Isles by order of the current Emperor. He and his wife make an interesting team and their relationship is healthy. It is refreshing to fo Dirty diapers and double dealing. Really funny, well paced, and historically accurate with great details. Falco, the main character is witty without being overly quippy smarty toga. You have like a 'Man from Rome' who brings his wife, 2 small children, dog, nephews, lusty yet lazy Freedwoman and angry sister on a long trip by ship to the newly Romanized British Isles by order of the current Emperor. He and his wife make an interesting team and their relationship is healthy. It is refreshing to follow characters like these. The author obviously has had practical experience with children and young adults, the romance is realistic, sexy, without taking over the book. The family relationships, I can dig it. Plus how often do we get a gumshoe who isn't some angst ridden loner struggling with fidelity issues or fighting complicated personal problems while wielding a sword/gun/penis? This is a guy who's life of adventure didn't end just because he got married had kids. Now I want to read the first novel.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Dennis Fischman

    What if the twins who founded Rome weren’t raised by wolves but by shaggy dogs? That would explain a lot about this story. It starts with the titular body in Falco’s bathhouse in Rome, proceeds through the discovery of another in Britain (where Falco has taken his whole family, including wife, two small children, two grown brothers-in-law, a nephew, and a dog), and it ends up with the Roman body identified and avenged. Along the way, you learn more about first-century architecture and dentistry What if the twins who founded Rome weren’t raised by wolves but by shaggy dogs? That would explain a lot about this story. It starts with the titular body in Falco’s bathhouse in Rome, proceeds through the discovery of another in Britain (where Falco has taken his whole family, including wife, two small children, two grown brothers-in-law, a nephew, and a dog), and it ends up with the Roman body identified and avenged. Along the way, you learn more about first-century architecture and dentistry than anyone with refined tastes will want to know. This is action adventure heroism combined with accurate history and inspired silliness.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

    I anjoy period mysteries and I enjoy mysteries with a wry sense of humor. The marcus Didius Falco series meets both of those requirements. This book was fun and had me stopping to pull up a map of Roman Britain so I could see where most of the events were taking place. Now I want to read up more on the Roman period in Britain.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Catherine

    The cast of characters at the front was quite intimidating, but this was much easier to follow than the detailed list implied, even if tere were actually a pair of bodies in two widely separated bath houses for Falco to investigate. Good fun: I'll pick up any others from this series that happen to cross my path. The cast of characters at the front was quite intimidating, but this was much easier to follow than the detailed list implied, even if tere were actually a pair of bodies in two widely separated bath houses for Falco to investigate. Good fun: I'll pick up any others from this series that happen to cross my path.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    Falco and his father discover a corpse under the floor of his new bath house. The contractors unfortunately may have fled to Britain, a place that Falco hates. But he is ordered to go to southern Britain to investigate the overly high running costs of a palace being built for Togidubnus, an ally of the Emperor Vespasian.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Bonnie

    Marcus Didius Falco, along with Helena Justina and other family members, go to Britain on a mission from Vespasian to look into problems with a mansion being built for a tribal chief friendly to Rome. As always with this series, there is a lot of humor and many complications that add to the interest and entertainment value. The reader does a good job.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Meredith

    "The Decline and Fall of Ancient Rome" was a bit hard going for me. Lindsey Davis's books about ancient Rome are fun because they give an insight into the minutiae of ancient Roman life, within the context of a very engaging story. "The Decline and Fall of Ancient Rome" was a bit hard going for me. Lindsey Davis's books about ancient Rome are fun because they give an insight into the minutiae of ancient Roman life, within the context of a very engaging story.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Janice

    I listened to this audiobook while deer hunting with my husband. I was enchanted with the characters, the humor, the time period (75 A.D.), the locale, the dialog ... everything. So glad this is a series. I'll definitely be reading others. I listened to this audiobook while deer hunting with my husband. I was enchanted with the characters, the humor, the time period (75 A.D.), the locale, the dialog ... everything. So glad this is a series. I'll definitely be reading others.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Anthony Buck

    A bit of a return to form for the falco series after a few less impressive entries. Read this on holiday which is probably the ideal way. As always lindsey Davis is the master of creating interesting and engaging minor characters, even when they only survive a handful of pages! Good fun.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Michelle Kemp

    Another great adventure

  23. 5 out of 5

    Silke

    A corpse is buried under the tiles in the new bathroom of Falco's father and Togidubnus, a british chief and ally to the Roman Empire Vespasian is having a palace build which doesn't seem to work out that great and so Falco (and his loved and not so loved ones) travel to Britain to solve yet another case and don't get killed in the process. Another glimpse into certain aspects of ancient life which I really liked. The focus in this installement is architecture and construction work. I learned ho A corpse is buried under the tiles in the new bathroom of Falco's father and Togidubnus, a british chief and ally to the Roman Empire Vespasian is having a palace build which doesn't seem to work out that great and so Falco (and his loved and not so loved ones) travel to Britain to solve yet another case and don't get killed in the process. Another glimpse into certain aspects of ancient life which I really liked. The focus in this installement is architecture and construction work. I learned how a roman bathhouse worked and more details about the romans in Britain. Like Falco though I really missed Rome in this one. The relationship between Falco and his wife Helena is lovely to witness as ever, their banter a constant source of enjoyment.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl

    A really excellent read. I had trouble putting it down after I got halfway through. I was a little worried about my lack of knowledge of Roman history and customs but I quickly got accustomed to the Latin names and the building trade for Romanate palaces. The rest was really human nature and politics which are largely the same. I enjoyed the characters and the pacing and the investigative work in the book. I didn't actually guess the whodunits and other revelations that came along, but there mad A really excellent read. I had trouble putting it down after I got halfway through. I was a little worried about my lack of knowledge of Roman history and customs but I quickly got accustomed to the Latin names and the building trade for Romanate palaces. The rest was really human nature and politics which are largely the same. I enjoyed the characters and the pacing and the investigative work in the book. I didn't actually guess the whodunits and other revelations that came along, but there made sense when explained and I didn't feel like there weren't enough clues. Lots of gory deaths and injuries but not a hardboiled plot. Would definitely read others in the series if they came my way. I particularly liked Falco and Helena's progressive and egalitarian approach to life.

  25. 4 out of 5

    gardienne_du_feu

    Marcus Didius Falco is quite exasperated. Not only has he just become a father for the second time, he is also overseeing the renovation of his future home, and on top of that, he is involved in a remake of his father's house. He is especially cross about Gloccus and Cotta, two incredibly unreliable contractors who were supposed to build Didius Senior's bath house but have been AWOL for weeks. More or less by accident, Falco and his father stumble on a secret of theirs, which is literally stinki Marcus Didius Falco is quite exasperated. Not only has he just become a father for the second time, he is also overseeing the renovation of his future home, and on top of that, he is involved in a remake of his father's house. He is especially cross about Gloccus and Cotta, two incredibly unreliable contractors who were supposed to build Didius Senior's bath house but have been AWOL for weeks. More or less by accident, Falco and his father stumble on a secret of theirs, which is literally stinking to high heavens: there is a rather derelict corpse hidden beneath the stylish new marble floor of the bath house! Falco should be glad to get away from all this for a while, but when Emperor Vespasian unveils his latest mandate, he is not tickled at all. Firstly because he has to go to Britain, which he has some bad memorise of, and secondly because what he is supposed to investigate is an ambitious construction project, of all things. Vespasian thinks it is taking way too long to finish, way too expensive and has way too many accidents, even lethal ones. But resistance is futile, and so Falco grinds his teeth, packs his bags and gets on a ship for Britain, along with a whiffy dog, an incompetent nurse and his two new assistants (also known as Helena's brothers). The building site in Noviomagus Regnorum (now Chichester) that is supposed to become King Togidubnus's new palace is a terrible chaos of quarrelling foremen and workers from all over the world. Valuable material disappears, brawls and fights happen, and when the next roofer has fallen to his death, people simply shrug it off. It is crystal clear that there is something wrong, and when more deaths occur among the higher ranks of the project, Falco throws himself into the investigation with all his might. I had neglected this wonderful historical mystery series for far too long - and wrongly so! Despite her snotty and wholly unhistorical tone, Lindsey Davis is an expert regarding the Roman Empire, and brings Fishbourne Palace back to chaotic life, complete with a whole lot of more or less barmy engineers, fresco painters, mosaicists and other handymen. Everyone who's ever had to do with a building project will recognize some trouble or other. The administrative tangles and many, many names gave me some trouble at first, but the "Dramatis Personae" helped. Some of Falco's other cases have been even more compelling, but still it was an entertaining mystery with the usual family episodes thrown in. I will certainly not wait another 1.5 years until the next Falco!

  26. 4 out of 5

    M.G. Mason

    Book...well I don't know how many in the Falco series of historical crime comedies from one of the UK's best writers in the genre. Finally elevated to Equestrian status (something that happened a few books back), Falco sets to work on building a bathhouse at this still modest home. He may have official title from Vespasian, but Procurator of the Sacred Geese of the Temple of Juno probably doesn't pay that well anyway. Nothing ever goes swimmingly for our protagonist and at the end of the first ch Book...well I don't know how many in the Falco series of historical crime comedies from one of the UK's best writers in the genre. Finally elevated to Equestrian status (something that happened a few books back), Falco sets to work on building a bathhouse at this still modest home. He may have official title from Vespasian, but Procurator of the Sacred Geese of the Temple of Juno probably doesn't pay that well anyway. Nothing ever goes swimmingly for our protagonist and at the end of the first chapter, he is already discovering bodies. A rotting corpse in the foundations is only the start of his troubles. Helena Justina has just given birth for a second time. Far from congratulating him, Emperor Vespasian just wants him to go to Britannia to oversee the construction of Togidubnus' new palace (what today we call Fishbourne Palace). It's over deadline and over budget, and Vespasian doesn't trust Anacrites with the job; who else than Rome's favourite informer? While we are on the subject of the Greek spy, he has started stalking Falco's sister Maia following the end of a brief flirtation (Maia is now in a relationship with Falco's long tem friend Petronius Longus). One particular incident forces Falco to rethink his refusal of Vespasian's generous offer to travel to Britannia and so it is off to the north, away from the warmth of the Mediterranean with him and the entire entourage, to escape Anacrites' deadly obsession. A bit of a squee moment for me as I know Fishbourne Palace really well. I've been about four times and what is uncovered on public display is truly astonishing. It is enormous with some incredibly beautiful mosaics (like the one pictured). What is even more eye opening is that so much of it is still under ground and under the modem housing. But anyway, I am straying into archaeology nerd territory and this is supposed to be as book review. As ever, the carefully interwoven narrative is as entertaining as it is educational, as gripping a thriller as it is hilarious. Comedy has always played a big part of this series, but so has tragedy and you won't find much different here. Davis is in her stride and the book carefully juxtaposes long tem development with the short term story plot. You know what to expect from the style now; Davis' style works and is, and has always been, an easy read. I have always admired the way she blends informative narrative with good storytelling and that is testament to how popular a crime series the Falco books are.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Scot

    Thirteenth of the Marcus Didius Falco mysteries, a fun and simultaneously instructive series penned by Lindsey Davis, which provides interesting background of social, cultural, and political practices of the Roman Empire during the reign of Vespasian, who ruled from 69 to 79 A.D. Our intrepid hero Falco sniffs out (well, that’s putting it lightly) a decaying body buried in the caldarium (hot room) of the bathhouse at the mansion he just got from his father, making a move back into Rome to accomm Thirteenth of the Marcus Didius Falco mysteries, a fun and simultaneously instructive series penned by Lindsey Davis, which provides interesting background of social, cultural, and political practices of the Roman Empire during the reign of Vespasian, who ruled from 69 to 79 A.D. Our intrepid hero Falco sniffs out (well, that’s putting it lightly) a decaying body buried in the caldarium (hot room) of the bathhouse at the mansion he just got from his father, making a move back into Rome to accommodate his growing nuclear family and considerable number of extended family relatives who are always dropping by. Another bathhouse soon enters into the plot, however—the one connected to the grand palace then being built near what is today Fishbourne on the southern coast of England by a political ally of Vespasian’s, Togidubnus (yes, that was his name), great king of the Britons. Falco (and family) are sent to Britain, back to where he first met Helena his wife, to check out the curiously high costs to the Empire the massive construction project is accruing. Ultimately, the bathhouse in the new palace will have a corpse of its own. This installment obviously teaches a lot about the practical and social uses of bathhouses in first century Roman culture, but it also offers a rather extensive review of how architects, surveyors, and those involved in such a massive construction project would have interacted and operated in that system, and what sorts of legal and corrupt business practices might have been employed for personal or financial gain. Roman influence and interaction with the locals of Britain in this period becomes a significant component as well. Davis draws upon the authentic archaeological finds of such a palace built for the real Togidubnus in the location given, discovered while digging a water main in 1960.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Rosanne Lortz

    Britain–the last place on earth that Marcus Didius Falco wants to visit. But when Emperor Vespasian asks him to conduct a cost analysis of a building site on the edge of the empire, our hero can hardly refuse. A Body in the Bathhouse shows the Didius family traveling en masse to the wilds of Britain: Marcus, his helpful wife Helena Justina, and their two little girls; Justinus and Aulus, assistants and brothers-in-law to the intrepid informer; and Maia, Marcus’ sarcastic sister who needs to flee Britain–the last place on earth that Marcus Didius Falco wants to visit. But when Emperor Vespasian asks him to conduct a cost analysis of a building site on the edge of the empire, our hero can hardly refuse. A Body in the Bathhouse shows the Didius family traveling en masse to the wilds of Britain: Marcus, his helpful wife Helena Justina, and their two little girls; Justinus and Aulus, assistants and brothers-in-law to the intrepid informer; and Maia, Marcus’ sarcastic sister who needs to flee Rome to escape reprisals from the spurned Anacrites. The palace under construction, a gift from Vespasian to the British tribal king Togidubnus, has more problems than a simple case of overspending. The head architect is unwilling to take any input from his client, valuable building materials keep disappearing from the building site, and Falco suspects that extra wages are being doled out to a phantom labor force. When the head architect winds up dead inside–you guessed it–a bathhouse, it’s up to Falco to find the perpetrator amidst myriads of men with motives.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Kirby

    I'm having a real hard time getting my review up here. Here I go one more time after having two reviews lost to cyberspace. I followed my friend and favorite detective Falco out of Ancient Rome to a construction site on a job commissioned by the emperor. The project is going no where and is hemorrhaging money. As he tries to unravel the problems of the project in a hostile environment, he uncovers a series of murders and finds himself in the crosshairs of the murderer or murderers. In each Falco n I'm having a real hard time getting my review up here. Here I go one more time after having two reviews lost to cyberspace. I followed my friend and favorite detective Falco out of Ancient Rome to a construction site on a job commissioned by the emperor. The project is going no where and is hemorrhaging money. As he tries to unravel the problems of the project in a hostile environment, he uncovers a series of murders and finds himself in the crosshairs of the murderer or murderers. In each Falco novel you find yourself unwittingly learning more about life in Rome than you could in a classroom, but with less effort. This novel focuses on the construction industry, and its workers (carpenters, plumbers, masonry workers, painters, managers, suppliers) and how things worked back then.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Deb

    I really enjoy this series! This time Marcus Didius Falco and his entourage have journeyed back to Britain, not exactly his favorite place in the Roman Empire. Vespasian has asked him to help sort out the mismanagement of a major building project. Falco takes his family, plus his sister Maia with him to evade the clutches of a spurned Anacrites. Murder and mayhem ensue as usual, and also as usual, Falco manages to uncover fraud, reveal murderers, and stay in relatively one piece. Aside from the I really enjoy this series! This time Marcus Didius Falco and his entourage have journeyed back to Britain, not exactly his favorite place in the Roman Empire. Vespasian has asked him to help sort out the mismanagement of a major building project. Falco takes his family, plus his sister Maia with him to evade the clutches of a spurned Anacrites. Murder and mayhem ensue as usual, and also as usual, Falco manages to uncover fraud, reveal murderers, and stay in relatively one piece. Aside from the storyline, I really like the attention to detail, this time with regard to architecture and the building trades.

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