Desperate Undertaking

Plot Summary

Our scene is set on the Field of Mars. Some of the character list will be familiar; some are deadbeats, some merely dead. Old friends of Albia’s parents are in town – while they are away. A maniac with a theatrical bent is planning gruesome murders, with helpers who leave victims to be discovered in ghastly situations, defiling some of Rome’s iconic monuments.

The vigiles want to pass this off as a stunt that went wrong. With the old informing excuse that she needs the money, not to mention competing with her parents, Albia investigates. The series of appalling deaths leads to a fear that Falco and Helena may be on the killers’ list, or to hurt them Albia herself may become a target. Having vigiles bodyguards is no help when these porridge-eaters are deep in discussion of classical drama; anyway, their tribune wants out of the problem and it will take time to realise he does know how to manipulate his skeleton keys.

Half the people Albia meets yearn for stage success, but stars are dim, Twins are a menace, am-drammers are hopeless wannabes, and don’t mention Falco’s tug-of-war scene. Even the Three Bears have a theatrical agent to protect their interests. Let’s hope the only Jason here is the one in the myth, and Thalia’s performing snake stays in his basket. Watch out for the road rage joke, Yorrick’s skull, and Vincent Price’s cat.

Does that old haemorrhoid suppository have anything at all to do with this – or is it just your crackpot author giving fun to loyal readers???


“The details have always been the real source of fascination in the novels of Lindsey Davis,” says crime critic Mark Sanderson. “The Flavia Albia series are far more than mere mash-ups of Up Pompeii! The research supports her beady-eyed examination of human relationship” The Times