Genre: Historical Mystery
Setting: Rome, 76 AD
First Sentence: "If he chucks a stone, he's done for," muttered Petronius.
This novel is the sixteenth in Davis's Falco mystery series which currently runs to twenty books. There are also five novels featuring Falco's adopted daughter Albia.
Falco is in the port city of Ostia on a missing person case. His friend Petro is also in Ostia on an investigation. Since Ostia is near to Rome, both of our intrepid investigators have brought their families along. For Falco, this means bringing his children, his dog, and his beautiful and intelligent wife Helena.
Unfortunately, Falco's job is not as straight forward as he expected it would be. The missing person is the author of the scandals column in Rome's news organ the Daily Gazette. It is possible that our missing person's writing may have gained him some deadly enemies.
While investigating, Falco uncovers what appears to be a kidnapping scheme run by pirates. It may be that our scandals author may have discovered this as well.
Of course, Falco's family becomes involved with the plot. Helena helps with the investigation. Falco's Pa reveals that he is involved in an art smuggling business. And Falco's Uncle Fulvius (The one nobody ever talks about) makes an appearance.
As the story progresses, it seems that all of Falco's questions take him further away from his missing person assignment. But in the end, the loose ends are resolved and justice prevails.
The best part of reading a Falco book is observing his family life. With his Ma and Pa, his sisters, the kids, the dog and his wife Helena, we see what life in a Roman family might have been like.
I enjoyed this book.