Cover image for One virgin too many
One virgin too many
Davis, Lindsey.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Mysterious Press, 2000.

Physical Description:
356 pages : maps ; 24 cm
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Marcus Didius Falco, the cynical, hard-boiled investigator from the rough end of Rome, is back from a difficult mission in North Africa. As a result of his hard work, Emperor Vespasian awards Falco with the title of Procurator of Poultry for the Senate & People of Rome, or keeper of the city's sacred geese. Not much of a salary, of course, but the title does give him a better standing with his in-laws. Now, all Falco wants is to spend time relaxing at home with his family. But there is no rest for Falco as he finds himself drawn into the world of the Roman religious cults...& the murder of a member of the Sacred Brotherhoods. And then there's the disappearance of the most likely new candidate for the Order of Vestal Virgins. Falco soon uncovers a sinister cover-up & is too deeply involved to back away from the truth.

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

Reading Davis' hardboiled Roman caper series (this is her eleventh) starring a tough-talking Roman informer is like hearing Sam Spade crack wise around the Emperor Vespasian. There's something jarring about an ancient Roman sounding as if he's channeling Edward G. Robinson. Davis' gumsandal hero, Marcus Didius Falco, has just gotten a reward: Vespasian has appointed him Procurator of the Sacred Geese, a sinecure that allows him entrance into the world of Roman cults. This knowledge comes in handy when a well-born little girl, slated by her family to be a Vestal Virgin, disappears after telling Falco her family is trying to kill her. The girl's disappearance coincides with a brutal murder stumbled upon by Falco's brother-in-law. A history mystery that is long on action and short on historical detail; a fun read, but not as richly researched and convincing as the Roman mysteries of John Maddox Roberts and Steven Saylor. --Connie Fletcher

Publisher's Weekly Review

"I seem to be hearing about nothing but religious cults this week," says Marcus Didius FalcoÄthe Spenser of Ancient RomeÄearly on in this 12th entry in Davis's popular series. And indeed details of the weirder practices of Roman worship take up much (some might say too much) of the book's story. Falco himself has been rewarded for his lucrative work as a census taker with the dubious honor of looking after the Emperor's sacred geeseÄincluding cleaning up their droppings. Aulus, the younger brother of Falco's highborn lover, Helena, is trying to join a prestigious agricultural/fertility sect called the Arval Brothers. And several young girls, including Falco's own niece, are caught up in the selection of a new Vestal VirginÄwhich sounds in Davis's version like a children's beauty pageant straight out of the JonBenet Ramsey case. Falco has to put aside his goose-watching and reclaim his day job as private informer when (1) Aulus discovers a mutilated corpse at the Arval Brothers' bucolic retreat and (2) one of the leading VirginsÄwho tried to hire Marcus because she thought her family was trying to kill herÄdisappears. As usual, Davis shows us many ways in which Ancient Rome was both the same as and different from our own timesÄalthough the research isn't as seamlessly integrated as before. And Falco, while still an interesting mix of ambition and democracy, doesn't have that true ring of a real Roman coin he once had. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Marcus Didius Falco has come a long way since Silver Pigs, the first book in this excellent series. For years he has been scraping along as an underpaid "informer" in first-century C.E. Rome, but suddenly his service to the emperor (as detailed in Two for the Lions) has won him an elevated post: Procurator of the Sacred Poultry, i.e., he tends the city's sacred geese. But trouble keeps coming his way: a wealthy little girl named Gaia wants to hire him, claiming that someone in her family wants to kill her, while his surly brother-in-law Aelianus has stumbled over a corpse at the rites of the Arval Brothers, a select society he hopes to join. The corpse then vanishes. Soon, it turns out that Gaia is the grand-daughter of a former chief priest, that her great-aunt is a former vestal virgin, and that Gaia was in the running to become one herselfÄuntil she disappears. Of course, the case of the missing girl and that of the missing corpse cross, and the mysteries surrounding both are solved, though one feels here that Marcus is a bit slower on the uptake than usual and a bit too talky about other issues. Nevertheless, for sharply etched characters, wry humor, and a powerfully evoked Rome, this historical can't be beaten. For most collections. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 7/00.]ÄBarbara Hoffert, "Library Journal" (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.