A Comedy of Terrors

Plot Summary

Written in Lockdown, so perhaps unusual wildness colours this story. It is Saturnalia. Albia has to manoeuvre through riotous festivities, knowing that the arrival of her husband’s two bereaved little nephews means she is trapped. Everyone expects her to make everything run smoothly for her household – presents, lights, decorations, and not choosing the wrong person as King for the Day. She doesn’t want to be maternal, she wants a job – but work has stopped for the holiday. While her husband is drawn into a sinister vigiles investigation that he doesn’t want to talk about, Albia is stuck with nothing better than defending a tug-of-love parrot belonging to a deeply unreliable client. She should have taken on the priestess who lost her twins in a shipwreck, twenty five years ago…

Don’t eat the nuts. Don’t even look at Xero’s pies. Don’t set fire to your house, it’s the Fourth Cohort’s annual drinks debacle again, so they won’t come. The Emperor is holding a party, with a dangerous fireworks display. And as winter descends, somewhere on the Aventine a dark gangster with a dangerous lieutenant is plotting to take over everything…


BookPage’s Most Anticipated Mysteries and Thrillers of 2021: Davis’ sequel series to her iconic Marcus Falco mysteries brings the same dark wit and vivid historical detail to the adventures of his daughter, Flavia Albia. If you’re tired of the more well-trodden periods of historical mysteries, you should really try these books.

There are many rich pop-culture portrayals of life in ancient Rome. One of the best is Lindsey Davis’s Marcus Didius Falco detective series, which melds scrupulous research, arch banter, caustic characters and strong plotting over the course of 20 books. Flavia Albia, like her father, is delightful, trickster-y company to spend time with. – New York Times

This amazing series… of the vibrant, squalid and dangerous heart of the Roman empire once again emphasises Lindsey Davis’ magical ability to immerse the reader in Roman life… It positively crackles with knowledge of the city and its people, mixed with social comment, ingenious and bloody plots and sharp observational skills leavened by more than a smattering of genuine and sometimes earthy humour. Davis’ Rome of 89AD is gloriously real and sinister in equal measure, its wonders balanced by its brutality, poverty, filth and criminality. Her lively prose, often biting wit and fascinating and unique historical detail make this another compelling and enthralling read… this superb story with its obsessive dwarves, lesbian gladiatrices, unfaithful boyfriends, anachronistic jokes, leopard mummies, nut fights and almost unending torrents of wine, is the ultimate in winter silly season romps. – Crime Review

The latest in Lindsey Davis’s effortlessly brilliant Flavia Albia series… Lighthearted, witty, and effortlessly clever, just like its wonderful heroine, this is a window into ancient Rome, and a tonic and a joy to read. – Observer

The details have always been the real source of fascination in the novels of Lindsey Davis: the nine Flavia Alba books are far more than mere mash-ups of Up Pompeii! and Horrible Histories. The research supports her beady-eyed examination of human relationships. Anyone for sheep’s-tongue confit or mussel-forcemeat sausage? It all climaxes in a spectacular show at the Flavian Amphitheatre in which some of the bad guys are finally brought to book – Sunday Times

A rollicking riot – Peterborough Telegraph