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Nemesis: A Marcus Didius Falco Novel    by Lindsey Davis order for
by Lindsey Davis
Order:  USA  Can
Minotaur, 2010 (2010)
Hardcover, CD

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Nemesis, the twentieth (following Alexandria) of Lindsey Davis's long-running Marcus Didius Falco mystery series, opens on tragedy for irreverent informer Falco and his patrician wife Helena. On the same summer day in AD 77, they lose both their newborn son and Falco's Pa, Geminus.

Though surprised to learn that Pa has left him a wealthy man, Falco (with Helena's encouragement) does not intend to stop working as an informer - he enjoys his job much too much. But digging into his father's affairs does unearth another corpse, that of Julius Modestus, who complained once too often about his felonious Claudii neighbors in the Pontine Marshes.

Soon Falco is working closely with his best friend, vigiles enquirer Petronius Longus (who is living happily with Falco's favorite sister Maia). It seems there are serial killers in the marshlands (who also steal Petro's ox), but the investigators are warned off. Who in Rome is protecting this 'bunch of second-rate ex-slaves' and why?

Soon Falco's nemesis, Chief Spy Anacrites, is involved up to his odd-colored eyes - and he has those eyes on Falco and Helena's foster daughter Albia, to the disgust of all three of them. And when Falco and Petro finally work out what's been going on, they realize they've been played, tickled 'like dim trouts in a mountain stream' - and decide it's time for Nemesis to act.

Having followed Falco's adventures from the beginning, I most appreciate those episodes that give Helena a role. Though hers was not a strong one this time, young Albia often took center stage in her place and finally left home to take up her foster father's old quarters and follow his career. It should be great fun to see where Lindsey Davis takes this scurrilous series, and its growing cast of characters, next!

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