When in Londinium....

The Jupiter Myth is another enjoyable romp with Marcus Didius Falco and Helena Justina. This time they're back in London staying with Helena's aunt and uncle. Her uncle, who previously featured in The Silver Pigs, the first in the Falco series, a senior figure in the Roman government of Britain, is concerned by the death of Verovolcus, a former friend of Rome's ally King Togidubnus.

Falco reluctantly investigates and uncovers a protection racket run by an old adversary from Rome. Falco's pal, Petronius Longus, meanwhile, is also working undercover to try and get to the roots of this new and expanding crime empire. Although I called it a romp, this is one of the more serious Falco's. The crime in this is decidedly nasty - a sort of first century AD Mafia take-over. Perhaps because of this, it is also a historical novel that feels decidedly modern - the story could be juxtaposed very easily to the twenty-first century and work just as well.

But fans of Ancient Rome should not despair, the crime may feel very modern, as do some of the attitudes of the characters, but much of the novel was inspired by archaeological digs in London. So this turns out to be a surprisingly informative novel, which shows how different the ancient world was from ours, and also how similar it could be.

For new Falco readers this may not be the best one to start with, I don't think it's necessarily the best constructed Falco, although it is clever and sometimes moving. For established Falco fans this is a great read, with lots more details about the characters' backgrounds, the return of some old friends (and enemies), and the possibility of romance for Petronius and Maia. Fun and informative, but a rather darker Falco than usual - perhaps more in keeping with the British, rather than Falco's beloved Mediterranean, skies.


Aarti said…
I love Falco and Helena! I now have just Nemesis left to read to be completely caught up with the series and I'm in no rush. I admit to being less than thrilled with the later books in this series. There's just a lot of Falco talking about how perfect his relationship with Helena is and really... that can get old after a while.

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