The Iron Hand of Mars sees Falco being dispatched to one of the most hostile parts of the Empire to deliver a new standard, an iron hand, to one of the legions. Germania is cold, wet, dismal, and full of dark forests inhabited by bloodthirsty barbarians, but Falco has an even bigger problem to worry about: he has forgotten Helena Justina's birthday, and she is being pursued by the Emperor's son Titus Caesar. As Falco makes his way through dangerous territory, he encounters the aftermath of a grisly crime, investigates the case of a missing legate, gets into trouble with a centurion, and has a fateful encounter with a Celtic priestess and a giant bull.
©1992 Lindsey Davis; (P)2007 BBC Audiobooks Ltd
This is one of the very good series of BBC produced dramatisations of Lindsey Davis novels. Murder, intrigue, mystery set in the Roman Empire of Vespasian. It features Marcus Didius Falco, private investigator, who is ‘persuaded’ to take on a dangerous, secret task for the Emperor. Really he is the put upon little man from the lower orders of Roman society, knocked about by more powerful forces, and although battered and bloodied, uses all his street wise savvy to come through against the odds - and gets the girl.
It has a nice balance between sinister with a bit of tongue in cheek. Quips and black humour throughout. But for all that the validity of plot, atmosphere and pace is well maintained.
The quality of presentation is very high – as you come to expect from BBC products. The lead roles, and especially Anton Lesser (who is one of my favourite voices) as Falco, were excellent. Some of the other parts were a little cardboard and the gay barber part was camp cliché.
All in all though, a very enjoyable listen. I would recommend anyone to this story and to others in the series.
The tales of Falco and his on/off love with Helena are exciting, funny and sometimes sexy. This particular tale also has a gay interest, admittedly Lindsey Davis has conformed to the usual old stereotypes and even though this would normally irritate me, I don't mind too much because the rest of the story is so good. The gay character is a bit like John Inman in Are You Being Served. So come on, Lindsey, let's keep up to date!
This is probably my least favourite of the Marcus Didius stories, but it was still a great dramatisation and well worth listening to.
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