Cover image for Two for the lions
Two for the lions
Davis, Lindsey.
Personal Author:
First U.S. edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Mysterious Press, 1999.

Physical Description:
390 pages : maps ; 24 cm
The first century Roman detective, Marcus Didius Falco, investigates the world of gladiators after one is murdered. The probe takes him to Tripoli where gladiator handlers buy their lions.
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Caged in frustration by having to work alongside the reptilian Chief Spy Anacrites, Marcus Didius Falco devises the perfect escape; become a tax collector in the "Great Census of A.D. 73". If his services are accepted by Vespasian and Titus, he may even rise high enough in the middle ranks to marry his long-suffering companion, Helena Justina. But a toothier job roars his way when the Empire's prized lion is mysteriously stabbed to death and Rome's star gladiator is found murdered. Now, Falco must enter the dark and desperate world of the Coliseum to hunt for a madman who must kill -- or be killed.

Author Notes

Lindsey Davis lives in London, England.

(Publisher Provided) Lindsey Davis was born in Birmingham, England in 1949. She earned her English degree at Oxford. Her published works include The Course of Honour and The Silver Pigs, the first in the Falco series which won the Authors' Club Best First Novel award in 1989. In 1999 she received the Sherlock Award for Best Comic Detective for her creation, Marcus Didius Falco.

(Publisher Provided)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Marcus Didius Falco may dress differently than Philip Marlowe, but the Roman sleuth in the dirty toga looks at corruption in the first century A.D. with the same world-weary cynicism that colored Marlowe's view of twentieth-century Los Angeles. In this latest Falco adventure, the freelance "informer" (sleuth, in Roman lingo) has a new gig: tax collector. Murder takes precedence, however, when Emperor Vespasian's executioner, a lion called Leonidas, is found dead. Falco follows the trail into the netherworld of gladiators and their handlers, called lanista. Meanwhile, Falco's patrician lover, Helena, must come to the aid of her black-sheep brother, who has run off to Tripoli, where the lanista buy their lions. Falco accompanies Helen to Africa, hoping to solve a family crisis and find a killer. Davis sticks closely to her successful formula here: a detail-rich scan of daily life in ancient Rome, a side trip to one of the Empire's outposts, and lots of beguiling Nick-and-Nora banter between Falco and Helena. It's worked before, and it works again. --Bill Ott

Publisher's Weekly Review

Talk about capital punishment: in the Rome of A.D. 73, top criminals are torn to pieces by a specially trained lion. And when that lion is himself found murdered with a spear, who better than Marcus Didius Falco, the Sam Spade of ancient Rome, to handle the case? Davis's 10th Falco adventure (after last year's Three Hands in the Fountain) has already won the first Ellis Peters/British Crime Writers award for a historical mystery, and should delight fans of her series. Newcomers, however, might occasionally wish that Falco weren't quite such a thorny character: like the cops on Law and Order, he seems to go out of his way to crack wise and to alienate partners and suspects alike. Working as a tax investigator with Anarcrites, a former chief spy for the emperor Vespasian, Falco calls his new associate "incompetent, devious and cheap." Falco's father, an antiquities dealer, is introduced as "the devious miser Didius Favonius"; his mother and sister are treated with equal scorn. Only Helena Justina, a senator's daughter, gets any respect from the cynical Falco: "She was neat, scathing, intelligent, wondrously unpredictable. I still could not believe my luck that she had even noticed me, let alone that she lived in my apartment, was the mother of my baby daughter, and had taken charge of my disorganized life." When he's not bad-mouthing most of Rome's population, Falco follows an increasingly tangled skein of clues to Greece and Tripoli, in search not only of the lion's killer but also of an elusive herb that sounds very much like garlic. As usual, Davis's research into the customs of the period is impeccable: it's only the excessively angst-ridden modernity of her lead character that occasionally rocks the read. (Dec.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Marcus Didius Falco, that charming but luckless Roman gumshoe, is also back, trying to earn a some money so that he can wed his beloved Helena Justina by working for Rome's "great Census" of 73 C.E. But a dead lion and some trouble among the gladiators distract him. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.