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See Delphi and Die: A Marcus Didius Falco Mystery (Marcus Didius Falco Mysteries) Hardcover – May 30, 2006

4.2 out of 5 stars 43 customer reviews
Book 17 of 20 in the Falco Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In Davis's engaging 17th ancient Roman historical to feature "informer" Marcus Didius Falco (after 2004's Scandal Takes a Holiday), Falco takes his deductive powers to Greece, where two young women tourists have died under mysterious circumstances. Accompanied by a large entourage, including his independent and sharp-witted wife, Helena, Falco soon finds that one tour, promoted by the shady Seven Sights Travel outfit, has a suspiciously high mortality rate. The long trail of corpses Falco uncovers puts the sleuth in danger of running out of suspects. While the way Falco unmasks the killer may be less than ingenious, the author's vivid picture of life in A.D. 76 and the sparkling characterizations, particularly the amusing byplay between Falco and Helena, will satisfy most readers. For those new to this popular series, which has a new publisher, Davis provides a short introduction to Falco and his world. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* If Sam Spade traveled back in time to A.D. 76, he'd be Marcus Didius Falco, the Roman sleuth at the center of Davis' mordant series. In the seventeenth outing, Marcus, who tackles crime on behalf of the emperor (and with the help of his tart-tongued wife, Helena), casts his cynical gaze on the case of two women who met their demise on tours of Olympia, Greece. Both women perished during excursions sponsored by Seven Sights, a dubious travel agency whose slippery host dispenses a litany of lies. Marcus focuses on the more recent victim, Valeria Ventidia, who was found beaten to death with a long-jumper's hand weight. Although there's no shortage of suspects among Seven Sights' colorful clientele, Valeria's shifty, jealous husband is at the top of the list. Davis provides vibrant period detail, from majestic Greek temples and teeming Roman slums to reprehensible rulers sporting tunics trimmed with gold. Some readers of this series may have difficulty accepting the hard-boiled veneer that Davis lays over ancient Rome, but for those willing to suspend disbelief, it makes a marvelous conceit. David Pitt
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Series: Marcus Didius Falco Mysteries (Book 17)
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books; First Edition edition (May 30, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312357656
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312357658
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.1 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,060,014 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Her books are funny and her characters are like old friends. It's hard to believe that the time these books are set in is around 75 AD. Her characters are Roman, and they travel around the world. Not only do we get a history lesson, but we also have a travelogue for Europe in this time. In this book, Falco and his wonderful wife Helena (as well as a few other hangers-on) travel to Greece to solve a mystery. Greece is the home of the Olympic Games and we learn quite about these very early games from the narrative in the book. Falco is on one of his most puzzling cases ever. He has to separate the natural deaths and accidents from the murders. He manages to straighten this out, but he still has no proof to charge his main suspect with the murders of a young married couple on holiday with Seven Sights Tourist company. We have the privilege of following Falco through the Greecian countryside as he tracks his killer. I highly recommend this series, and suggest that it be read in order. This is the eighteenth book in the series, so you'll have a wonderful reading journey to get through. Be prepared to laugh out loud many times as Ms. Davis' humour runs rampant through each book.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Falco always was at his best when traveling about, grouching about how the locals aren't up to Roman standards while admitting to himself that the Romans aren't really up to Roman standards either. This book probably also isn't up to Roman standards, but fortunately for us, it is up to Falco standards. That's good enough for me.

Falco and Helena (and Albia and Nux but not the children) are on a trip to Greece. A couple of young Roman women have died under mysterious circumstances while touring with Seven Sights, the shadiest operators you would ever want to meet. Somehow Aulus has become involved, so Helena's mother wants Falco to take care of things. Everyone on the tour is a suspect.

So much for the plot -- it's not bad but it's definitely not the high point of the book. The puppet strings are just a little bit too visible. The mystery is not compelling but neither is it completely pro forma. All the evidence is hidden in plain sight, and it was possible for the reader to figure it all out just about the same time that Falco did.

However, the cynical Falco dialogue is sparkling, and the characterization of Falco and Helena and their party is first rate. Davis seems to have found her voice again with the new, respectable Falco after struggling for several books while he made the transition into the landed gentry.

"Like most students, he was not at all surprised to find six people, some of whom he had never met before, fast asleep in his room. After the briefest of pauses, Gaius feigned an apology: 'Any friend of Uncle Marcus is ... an idiot.'"

The book is full of details about the grimy and sometimes slimy side of tourism, particularly tourism in a legendary but now backwater place like Roman-era Greece.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is the 17th (!) book in the amazing series about Didius Falco, an "informer" and sometime imperial agent in Rome circa 76AD. As usual, much of the book involves interactions between Falco, his wife, family and friends in the context of imperial Rome. This time we travel through various towns in Greece investigating two murders on two different foreign tours booked from Rome.

Each book can be read separately from the rest of the series, but ideally the reader will start at the beginning, Silver Pigs. It is important to not miss Two for the Lions, which resolves threads from earlier volumes.

The Silver Pigs (1989)
Shadows in Bronze (1990)
Venus in Copper (1991)
The Iron Hand of Mars (1992)
Poseidon's Gold (1993)
Last Act in Palmyra (1994)
Time to Depart (1995)
A Dying Light in Corduba (1996)
Three Hands in the Fountain (1997)
Two for the Lions (1998)
One Virgin Too Many (1999)
Ode to a Banker (2000)
A Body in the Bath House (2001)
The Jupiter Myth (2002)
The Accusers (2003)
Scandal Takes a Holiday (2004)
See Delphi and Die (2005)
Saturnalia (2007)

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Format: Hardcover
Davis has our middle aged family sleuth deciding to pursue a case in Greece based on a letter sent back home by Helena's brother, Aulus. The brutal murder at Olympia of Valeria Ventidia, newly-wed to Statianus and the decided lack of local government interest in the matter, coupled with the previous death of Caius Secundus' daughter, Marcella Caesia, on the Hill of Cronos, means our acerbic sleuth tries to hotfoot it off to Athens to track down the mystery killer but, instead, finds himself on the ancient version of the package holiday under the auspices of the Seven Sights tourist travel company headed by its unctuous salesman Polystratus and the chief guide, Phineas.

So, with Helena and their adopted daughter Alba, plus Glaucus, a bronzed would be athlete, son of Glaucus senior, and his two nephews, Gaius and Cornelius, Marcus heads off to Greece to track down the tourist party with its murdered member.

After visting Olympia (which is portrayed as resembling the aftermath of a music festival) and surviving an attack on his life whilst digging a little too deeply by Milo of Croton, they catch up with the party at Corinth and finally get to interview the tourist group (once authorised by the wet-behind-the-ears Aquillius Macer). There is Tiberius Sertorius Niger and his wife with two children, the middle-aged Helvia, the shabby Volcasius, Indus and Marinus, two old friends, Cleonyma and Cleonymus - the latter who ends up murdered fairly shortly afterwards - Minuca and Amaranthus and finally the recently deceased Turcianus Opimus.
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