Apologies once again for the decidedly dodgy photograph, but I'm too busy to faff around looking for images, cropping, copying, pasting and all that faff - I'm really busy writing, reading and editing at the moment and this is the quickest as well as the laziest way to do it.
Right, apologies out of the way, and on to the book itself. Like a lot of other Falco fans I was sad when the series came to its inevitable end ... I pounced on the Falco companion, and loved the novella about his adopted son which appeared as an ebook (note to self - review it later) But I was a bit anxious when the first Flavia Albia book came out. Would it be as good as the Falco books? Would I be disappointed?
I jumped on it when it first arrived, and reckoned that it was not dissimilar to the first Falco book, The Silver Pigs: good enough to make you want to read the next in the series, but not, perhaps, likely to be your favourite one. But you have to start somewhere in introducing a new series and setting the scene: for those familiar with the Falco novels, this is set several years after Flavia Albia fled his house and set up in his old abode at Fountain Court as an informer.
This is now Lindsey Davis' fourth Flavia Albia book; each has got better, and now in this latest, she has finally hit the same winning form that she had with Falco. The humour that was always in evidence with Falco has resurfaced fully again: and although we are given more glimpses of Falco's family life than in previous books, it is our heroine and her betrothed that really grabs our interest now - we still love Falco and his bonkers family, but now we love the prickly Flavia too. And yes, in this book, Flavia is to be married - not her idea, but that of her intended, Manlius Faustus. The characters and their interaction are of course, what lifts Lindsey Davis' books above the mere 'crime solving in a different century' genre: they have meticulous research, the crimes all sound feasible as do their solutions, but above all, they are character driven. They feel real, you care about them, and you want to know more about them.
It's a great read - don't be afraid to jump straight into it even if you haven't read the others, as all is explained sufficiently if you don't know the background - and there is a completely unexpected, totally appropriate and explosive grand finale. Loved it. More, please!