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The Silver Pigs (Marcus Didius Falco Mysteries) Paperback – International Edition, April 1, 2008

4.4 out of 5 stars 57 customer reviews
Book 1 of 20 in the Falco Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The intriguing premise of a detective story set in Imperial Rome in 70 A.D. is unpredictably fulfilled by Davis's hero-gumshoe, M. Didius Falco, an iconoclastic young republican. Falco rescues the niece of a senator from a kidnapping attempt, is attracted by both her innocence and the secret she keeps regarding a silver ingot (the "pig" of the title) and then stricken when her corpse is found in a spice warehouse. Hired by her family to track down the reasons behind her death, Falco spends the winter in Britain working as a slave in a silver mine. Enduring vividly depicted hardship with customary sharp-witted pluck, he picks up the hints of a plan to overthrow Vespasian, the current emperor. He also meets the senator's divorced, sharp-tongued daughter, Helena Justina, and brings her back to Rome where they work with--and against--each other to bring the well-developed plot to its satisfying conclusion. Wisecracking in ancient idiom, Falco seems, nevertheless, a recognizably up-to-date young man, one whose honor, humor and humanity work him quickly into reader's affection. Davis's story, though couched in period detail, rewards as much for deft handling of plot and depth of characterization as for its historicity.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Describe a detective in seedy surroundings, an impulsive young woman, intrigue in high places, and the plot sounds all too familiar. But, name the detective Marcus Didius Falco, place him in first-century Rome, and an entertaining newcomer to fictional detectives is introduced. In 70 A.D., Falco is a cynical observer of himself and society under the new emperor, Vespasian. An encounter with a senator's niece precipitates a sequence of events including murder, plots within the ruling family, and a trip to Britain to uncover thefts in the Roman silver mines. Woven into Falco's adventures are humor, romance, suspense, and clues for the discerning reader. The maps are helpful and even the "Dramatis Personae" is entertaining. Highly recommended for mystery or historical fiction collections.
- Ellen Kaye Stoppel, Drake Univ. Law Lib., Des Moines
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Arrow (April 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099515059
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099515050
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.8 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (57 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,092,344 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
For starters, I'm a big fan of the wise-cracking school of detectives. Stephanie Plum, Alan Gregory, and others always bring a smile to my face. Now I can add Didius Falco. What is different is that his snide remarks are 1,930 years old and concern things like going to that barberic land called Britain where, heaven forbid, it's so cold you have to wear socks.
I happen to love fictional history so this is a great match of mystery and history. I learned more about the Roman Empire under Vespesian than I've learned since college. And it wasn't just politics--- the book includes a good sense of everyday life. Did you know that urine was used as bleach?
There's also a dandy mystery with complicated webs of politics and greed and murder to be solved. Didius has a few missteps but ultimately has the moxy to unravel the tangled mess.
My only quibble is a modest one. I listened to the unabridged tapes. The narration is in first person, past tense which is ok. Unfortunately, the narrator has the voice of a fifty/sixty year old man. This made it a little hard to visualize a 29 year old Falco (particularly in some of the more romantic moments).
Bottom line - a series I'm eager to continue reading for the clever mystery plotting, the engaging main characters and the history lessons.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
SILVER PIGS is the first of a series of mysteries highlighting the adventures of the Roman sleuth Falco and his clever accomplice and lady friend, Helena Justina. The latest, LAST LIGHT IN CORDUBA, is just about to be released in the U.S. Buy it by all means, buy them all, but START WITH THIS ONE.

Lindsey Davis makes one critical mistake in this first outing, but it is nevertheless an engrossing and endearing book--and perhaps my favorite. Her hero, precariously poised between the lower and upper ranks of Imperial Roman society, is the perfect observer of the daily life of what the average person assumes was either a very dusty, dry existence or else extremely sensational, as in I, CLAUDIUS. The truth was probably somewhere in between, and we get it rendered in SILVER PIGS with a gritty realism and a charmingly anachronistic Sam Spade delivery that makes the novel humorous and unforgetable.

Falco has a number of problems in this book--not counting his demanding mother, irritating brothers-in-law, and not terribly hygenic nieces and nephews--the first of which is making ends meet. The fabric of his existence seems held together with cockroaches. It becomes increasingly hard to hold together after he befriends the niece of a Senator, who unwittingly holds the key to a dangerous secret.

It is with the character of Sosia that Davis makes her only significant mistake: Falco and the reader get so very attached to her that when, at the end of the first section, we are forced to part ways with her, it is tempting to put the book down in discouragement.

It is vital that you do not, for that would mean failing to meet Sosia's cousin Helena Justina, who changes everything for both Falco and the reader.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is an absolutely outsanding work on many levels. To begin with, Lindsey Davis brings to life a world which existed 2000 years ago. She details daily life, from Falco's apartment to upper class living, and even the politics of the time, allowing you to experience the Roman empire hands on. But there is much more to this book than just Davis' ability to let you experience a new world - there is the amazing fact that this all really happened. There is evidence that Falco existed, that he fell in love with a young, high ranking woman, and that he actually did help to solve the mystery of the silver pigs. This is not just some throw-back to a 1940s 'private eye' movie, it is one of the original stories, pulled out of the pages of history books and transformed into a fascinating story which will broaden your horizons. I highly reccomend this book! And if you enjoy it, continue reading the series!
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
SILVER PIGS is the first novel in the finest historical mystery series being written today, and why it would be permitted to fall out of print when old Agatha Christie clunkers are on the shelf is beyond my understanding. The series has an off-the-cuff verisimilitude that reminds one of great science fiction, and oh, can Davis write! Very few books make me giggle, then bring tears to my eyes a few pages later, but Davis pulls that off in SILVER PIGS (and in every novel). I especially love her forgiving knowledge of human nature, similar to Ellis Peters' and Sharan Newman's, but Davis ranks well ahead of any of them in her handling of language.
I've read, and fortunately own, all the Falco novels available (so far) in paperback, and continue to be amazed by the high quality of each. They make great gifts, and I assure you, the recipients become instant Davis fans.
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Format: Paperback
Historical mysteries are always fun to read. Part of that fun, is finding ourselves living in that time period. Another part of the fun is looking for any anachronisms or things that are historically out of place. For example, Caesar is in the Senate House and Marcus Aurelius is speaking. Sorry, wrong. Lindsey Davis' The Silver Pigs introduces us to Marcus Didius Falco, an private informer. Davis' books are much morer humourous that Saylor's Gordianus series. While Saylor has Gordianus enmeshed in the history of Rome as the Republic fell and the Empire rose, Davis has Falco going through the mundane daya to day activities in Imperial Rome. In this first out, Falco is sent to Britannia to learn about declining production in silver mines. Here, he meets the beautiful Helena Justina, the soon to be object of his affection. The mystery is well paced and Falco is a quite endearing character. I enjoyed the book a lot.
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