Falco: the new generation - Introducing Flavia Albia. Flavia Albia is the adopted daughter of a famous investigating family. In defiance of tradition, she lives alone on the colourful Aventine Hill, and battles out a solo career in a male-dominated world. As a woman and an outsider, Albia has special insight into the best, and worst, of life in ancient Rome.
A female client dies in mysterious circumstances. Albia investigates and discovers there have been many other strange deaths all over the city, yet she is warned off by the authorities. The vigils are incompetent. The local magistrate is otherwise engaged, organising the Games of Ceres, notorious for its ancient fox-burning ritual.
Even Albia herself is preoccupied with a new love affair: Andronicus, an attractive archivist, offers all that a love-starved young widow can want, even though she knows better than to take him home to meet the parents...As the festival progresses, her neighbourhood descends into mayhem and becomes the heartless killer's territory. While Albia and her allies search for him, he stalks them through familiar byways and brings murder ever closer to home.
The Ides of April is vintage Lindsey Davis, offering wit, intrigue, action and a brilliant new heroine who promises to be as celebrated as Marcus Didius Falco and Helena Justina, her fictional predecessors.
©2013 Lindsey Davis (P)2013 Hodder & Stoughton
"Davis's descriptions of Rome are vivid and lively...this is a great yarn" (Daily Mail)
'While this book is a departure from her usual Falco novels, the trademark charm, piercing intelligence and ready wit are as abundant as ever... dramatic and enthralling, all the more so for being full of historical fact. The characters are intriguing and three-dimensional, and the whole is told with a humour and insight which means the reader will find the book impossible to put down." (www.thebookbag.co.uk)
Long term book junkie only recently addicted to audio books. Now my iPod and I are inseparable.
I was delighted when I saw that Lyndsey Davis had launched a series featuring Falco's adopted daughter as an informer in imperial Rome.
I caught the Falco bug in 2002 when I found "The Silver Pigs" about ten years after everyone else. I snorted down the first four books that year and then settled down to read one or two books a year thereafter. Last year I read "Nemisis", the twentieth, last and the darkest book in the series, where Falco finally has to replace flippancy and stubborn insubordination with grim responsiblity. He had become a Roman of substance, with things to lose and lies to hide. His days as an informer were clearly over. I regretted his passing but thought that Lyndsey Davis had done the right thing by him.
"The Ides of April" is set more than a decade later, The child Thalia was pregnant with in "Nemisis" is now an eleven year old boy. Falvia Albia is a twenty-eight year old widow and has been an informer for a number of years. Falco has "retired" to being an art dealer.
This gives everytihng a fresh start while providing enough continuity that I didn't feel set adrift. It really is "Falco: the next generation".
The plot here is clever and artfully told. Some of the pre-figuring is a little heavy-handed, making certain "reveals" a non-event but on the whole it adds to the light-hearted tone. There is a, perhaps inevitable, "Episode 1 Season 1" feel to the book but it promises well for the future.
I had two problems with the book: mixed feelings about Flavia Albia herself and mixed feelings about the narrator, I'm sure the two are related.
Flavia Albia is a misfit, neither fully Roman nor truly outsider. She is educated, ethical and cares for animals and small childern. She is also violent, well aware of the threats to women in Roman law and Roman manners, and almost insanely determined to put herself in harms way.
This conflicted nature was mirrored by the approach of the narrator. She read skillfully, coping with dialogue and action well, but, in a story told in the first person, the voice of the narrator BECOMES the character and I couldn't reconcile the upper class accent with the foul mouthed cynicism and violent behaviour. But perhaps that was the point.
I ended the book feeling entertained and wanting to read more but still uncertain about whether I liked Flavia Albia.
I was a little worried that a book in the Falco universe without the great man himself might be a little like a cucumber sandwich without the cucumber - yes, that's right - two pieces of bread. But no - without the cucumber to deal with, Lindsey Davis has written up a lovely bit of tomato and cheese with a dollop of pickle on the side (yes, I'm very hungry indeed and lunch is still a couple of hours away). But honestly, this was a great book. Some of the romance elements of the plot were a little obvious. When a feisty woman takes a moment to muse on how she could *never ever* see herself with some arrogant twit, you always know that the arrogant twit will, by the end of the book, be less arrogant and more desirable. But it's testament to the strength of the first person narrative and the beauty of some sequences (notably those involving the foxes) that I totally overlooked the traditional romantic silliness. Also, I think it's fair to say that the narration was pretty splendid. There were a couple of lines I felt lost the correct tone...but they were few and far between. More importantly, her voice was soothing, clear and nothing jarred. Can't wait for the next book!
Whilst I am pleased to have a new book in the Falco vein to listen to, this is nothing like as polished, Albia is a less believable central character; and while Falco and Helena are mentioned and interactions are described neither are given any dialog... I can't help feel that the book is poorer for this omission. A pity, but overall it's not one of Davis' best.
It’s different antagonist in a different time. There’s a different emperor on the throne, and his paranoia bleeds through to the day to day life of Rome’s 1st Century inhabitants. Davis has to work hard to convince the reader that it’s credible for a young woman to succeed in the very masculine world of her father during these troubled times, but through a combination of her great skill as a writer, and a small degree of suspended disbelief on the audience’s part, we soon settle in and start to enjoy the ride. It DOES work. You DO believe the characters. You CAN believe the plot. Who’d’ve thunk it? All in all, though this first Flavia Albia novel is a little of a faltering start to the series, but anyone who has been with Falco from the word ‘go’ will trust that this is just a settling in period, and all will be back to the usual excellence, come the next outing.
Helping us into this new Rome is the perfectly formed voice of Lucy Brown. It's a joy to listen to, and (if I'm honest), I'm just a little bit in love with those dulcet tones. However, it's just a little too perfect for a first person narrative by a London street child. Lacks that streetwise edge I imagine Albia to have. You can't have everything.
I would - to both. Davis writes lightly, and subverts history in an amusing way. I was always interested in the way she might have handled Dominitician's rule. Lucy Brown reads well, but still not quite convinced this is the adopted daughter by Romans (noble and ignoble) of a British survivor of the Boudicean revolts.
I've been highly amused by and enjoyed Lindsey Davis' book in the past. Very tongue in cheek. Obviously a different primary character, and only minor references to the family. It takes a little listening to become interested, partially because of the character, and partially because I don't think that Ms Davis has quite worked out where she wants to go with the character.
She reads well, clear, easy to listen to, and for an audio book (I use them in the car or train that is very important).
I think this would be difficult. To get the best out of it you ned the history - it's not a one off (either the books or the history).
Worth listening to, but you might abandon it early. A mistake (having persevered and not returned it - I might have done - after just the first few chapters). I don't regret it, the book got better and as of most of her books, amusing side takes on how we might imagine the Romans did and thought. BTW - I got the real romance pretty early :-)
Good insight into everyday life in Rome for females. Albia is independent and feisty. A great development in the wonderful Falco series
I actually listened to this audiobook twice because I was so delighted with it. I'm a big fan of Falco, and yes, it's a wrench getting used to a new main character while Marcus Didius lurks tantalisingly in the background, but I feel I know Flavia Albia much better now and can't wait for her next outing. The storyline is multi layered and you might think you've sussed everything out but I bet you haven't! Very enjoyable
I love the Falco books and Christian Rodska IMHO has the characters down to a T. I was so looking forward to the new venture with Albia but it fell at the first post for me. Although she has been adopted and assimilated to the Roman way of life Albia was always a rough diamond who could change to suit the situation, not unlike her father. She is a savvy, gutsy, quick thinking girl. I'm now 40 minutes in to the story and struggling. The narrator has perfect diction and is very clear but lacks any character or comic timing. It's like listening to a school teacher reading to a class of bored teenagers desperately trying to engage them in what could possibly be a quite good story. The asides are lost in the reading and she sounds so prissy and girly, not at all like the character revealed in the Falco series. Shame really.
Sorry but asking if a reader thinks the audiobook is better than the print version is missing the point. As someone said about television 'I prefer radio - the pictures are better'. That said the narration is pretty damn good and captures the complexities of the character perfectly, if not the many and disparate other 'voices'.
The business with the roast pork skewer. So much for romance!
The ritual procession that degenerated from a well-laid trap for a killer into near farce. A classic piece of business that stands up beside Falco's big fight scene around the scaffolding of Fishbourne Roman Palace in A Body in the Bathhouse. Classic Lindsey Davis!
Not really. Flavia Albia laughs and she cries - or so she claims - but somehow I doubt it. Diploma of Roman citizenship notwithstanding she's British, gods damn it, and we Britons just don't do that sort of thing. (And if we don't, we don't talk about it.)
A really good detective story with nice details about roman life.
Tiberius. He was always the underdog but tried hard and was a good egg at the end.
"Are women really that stupid?"
The lead character is dumb. She couldn't think her way out of a paper bag. The climax of the story made no sense. I have read some of this authors Falco mysteries and they are much better than this one.
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