It is the Season of Misrule in Rome, sheer misery for Falco. Uppity slaves give orders to their cringing masters, masters try to hide in their studies, women are goosed, statues wobble, a prince has a broken heart, Helena’s brother will not decide if his heart is broken or not, children are sick and even the dog can’t stand it any more. As the festival meant for healing grudges riotously proceeds, a young man who has everything to live for dies a horrific death while the security of the Empire is compromised by the usual mixture of top brass incompetence, bureaucratic in-fighting and popular indifference. The barbarians are not just at the gates, they are right inside – and that’s just the bombasts in the Praetorian Guard, encouraged by the pernicious Chief Spy.
Doctors are making a killing. Alternative therapists are ecstatic. Members of the Didius family are about to receive some extremely unusual seasonal gifts. But for the non-persons on the fringes of society life is not so jolly, and dark spirits walk abroad (available for hire through the usual agents). Falco has a race against time to find a dangerous missing person, aided and hindered by faces from the past, while running the gauntlet of the best and worst Roman society can offer as Saturnalia entertainment. Unfortunately for him.
This is the one with the giant vegetables.
‘Yes we’re back in the brilliantly realized Ancient Rome of Lindsey Davis again – and what unalloyed pleasure it is!’ Good Book Guide
‘It’s another entertaining adventure in which as usual a lot of wine is drunk…’ Sunday Telegraph
‘‘The fans’ expectations are higher than ever and are unlikely to be disappointed’ – The Bookseller
‘Rome is vividly brought to life – alien yet curiously familiar. And the story gallops along at a tremendous pace with humour and suspense dispensed in equal measure. Saturnalia is another rollickingly good yarn from a reliable writer’
‘“We in the Fourth Cohort know how to give a turnip a good time!”’
Chosen by reader, Andy Erlanger