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The Jupiter Myth    by Lindsey Davis order for
Jupiter Myth
by Lindsey Davis
Order:  USA  Can
Warner, 2003
* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

The Jupiter Myth is the fourteenth in the Marcus Didius Falco mystery novels by Lindsey Davis. I hate to admit it, but this is the first I have read. But reading it made me realize what I have been missing.

It's AD 75. Marcus and family have stayed in Britannia following their adventures in A Body in the Bathhouse and are in Londinium, visiting his wife Helena's relatives when a murder is discovered and Marcus is drawn into the investigation. History has always had a fascination for me. So being able to read of London in that period of time was a real pleasure. To have a mystery involved became the icing on the cake.

A man is found with his head down a well. Needless to say, he's dead. Tricky diplomacy is involved because the citizenry of Londinium don't look favorably on their conquerors. A criminal element has been filtering into the city, running an illicit protection operation with the local businesses. This of course hampers the murder investigation. The dark side of Londinium is dark indeed. It was a hard life in Roman Britain, and Davis depicts the city with its dank streets and furtive people with a confidence that almost makes the reader believe she lived in those times.

The story is told from Falco's point of view. He is a kind and considerate man, but one who can rise to the occasion when necessary. His relationship with his wife is unusual for the times, but suits him well. This is a fast-paced, exciting novel with wonderful, believable characters, each with their own agenda. I like the strong women who people the pages, especially the cocky Chloris - a gladiator!

The royal torturer has an unusual outlook on his work. Falco's long-time friend Petro is involved in tracking down the murderer as well as the men running the protection racket. I came to care about these two men and wanted them to come out on top. A scene in the arena is a real page-turner. Don't skim over it. With a little imagination and Davis's words, you can place yourself there and be as scared as I was. There is a delightful wry sense of humor running through the book that keep Falco and company human.

Pick up a copy of The Jupiter Myth and transport yourself back in time to an interesting period in history. Enjoy.
[b:Reviewed by Hilary Williamson:
B]eing a long-time Falco fan, I just have to add that it's great to see Helena Justina able to participate more actively in the investigation, to enjoy Falco's trepidation when an old flame (Chloris) shows up in his life again (as Amazonia, no less), and to see Petronius Longus meet his match. Though Falco is more at home in Rome, I enjoy his Britannic episodes 'at the end of the world' very much, and wish there were more.
I look forward to the next in the series, The Accusers (back in Rome again) next year, hope that Helena's brothers and Falco's nephew will be there too, and am curious to see who else tags along with Falco and Helena's growing train of followers.

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