Daily Recco, October 20: The Silver Pigs, a crime mystery steeped in European history
The first book in the Marcus Didius Falco series, The Silver Pigs, explores the crime mystery set in the Roman Empire.
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Has there ever been a book that you might have picked up at the bookstore on a whim, uncertainly looked at its outer jacket and yet made the very sceptical purchase? And has that turned out to be among the best buys that sealed your friendship with the bookseller who stocked it? Well, The Silver Pigs — the first book in the Marcus Falco series — by author Lindsey Davis, is one of those books that make you never look back if you are a fan of mystery crime novels.
(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
The story is set in AD 70 and opens with tracking the conspiracy in the silver ingots trade. Imperial agent (call him an informer or a private investigator, as you please!) Marcus Didius Falco — the central character and narrator — has to travel to Britain from Rome to unearth the conspiracy. And it is here that he meets Helena Justina — his romantic interest and eventually his wife — and their relationship is the bedrock of the 20 subsequent books in the series.
Falco goes on to unearth the conspiracy and as an undercover, works in the silver mine as a slave. After being severely abused and in tremendous pain, he is rescued and eventually goes back to Rome. He eventually sorts out the case. Now comes the difficult part of bringing the culprits to justice as one of the offenders is among the highest-ranking authorities in the Roman Empire! The narration then shifts focus on the Falco-Helena romance, with Falco having to choose between his love and honour.
Davis keeps the tone of the narration satirical. If you are a fan of history, this is also for you because the historical setting and the depiction is fairly accurate. The best part is that if you read through the remaining books in the series, you would realise how the author manages to keep the relationship between Falco and Helena so fresh. Not just Helena and Falco, but the relationship between all the main characters is balanced and still interesting.
Pick up The Silver Pigs if you are ready to travel back in time to the Roman Empire with a healthy dose of fictional mystery.