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5.0 out of 5 starsCultivons notre jardin
Reviewed in the United States on August 5, 2020
I’ve been a Lindsey Davis fan since her Didius Falco days, and probably prefer those earlier books to the Flavia Albia mysteries. But “The Grove of the Caesars” is more than an exception—it may be one of the best tales in either enjoyable series. Albia is at her cynical and yet touching best, especially in the final pages of the novel. Three storylines get underway quickly, two of them violent and the third an exercise in scholarly skullduggery that manages, despite one truly dull chapter on ancient Rome’s bibliomania, to deliver quite a punch. Overall, the plot is complex and layered without being confusing. As always, the city of Rome is rendered as convincingly as present-day London or New York.
5.0 out of 5 starsImperial Rome with a dose of grandeur and a host of warts
Reviewed in the United States on September 2, 2020
I order Lindsay Davis's books as soon as they're announced, and read them (in Kindle format, now) as soon as they're released. "Grove of the Caesars" came on Monday; I finished it Thursday.
The series, set in the first century A.D., began with "Silver Pigs" and introduced Marcus Didius Falco, an imperial "informer" (a public/private eye). In recent years, Davis has turned to the adventures of his daughter Flavia Albia. Where the father worked under the benevolent emperor Vespasian, his daughter has to work under Vespasian's capricious and unforgiving son, the emperor Domitian. So she can't count on support from the top, and has to tread very carefully in pursuit of public and private crimes and criminals.
Falco became an informer after army service, and is now retired and running the auction business that had been his father's. Albia was a street urchin in Londinium (i.e., London), whom Falco and his wife adopted. Having learned the informer trade from the best, she is more than capable of doing detection on her own, though she's sometimes helped by her husband, an affable aedile (a local officeholder).
The Didii family began as (what we would call) working class, and has now reached (what we would call) the middle class. But because of their backgrounds, father and daughter still regard their city and their fellow citizens with a reality-based, up-from-under perspective. Davis gives us their Rome with a dose of grandeur and a host of warts.
In the latest book, Albia confronts two mysteries -- a series of rape/murders and a literary forgery -- that may or may not be related. The Albia series, like the Falco series, has a few (but only a few) weak entries; the vast majority, including "Grove of the Caesars," are truly good reads, engaging both for their mysteries and for the chance to live, however briefly, inside the heads of Davis's protagonists. I encourage you to indulge, especially if Imperial Rome is your cup of mulsum (fortified wine).
The tale takes murder to yet another part of the Roman capital, this time across the Tiber. A serial killer threatens prostitutes in a wooded area with a sacred grove. Lindsey Davis attacks the book with her customary humor and command of the topography and culture of ancient Rome. There is a bit too much modern feminism thrown in that detracts from her usual picture of the era, but we have to let Albia be Albia--she is certainly an unusual informer.
5.0 out of 5 starsFlavia Albia becomes a wife and does not lose herself
Reviewed in the United States on August 4, 2020
Any independent woman who takes a husband will fret about losing herself, her independence, to the never ending domesticity of the day to day as the partnership works itself out with someone you’ve chosen to spend your life with because you love them and feel that the two of you will grow to be better people together then if you persisted alone and separate. This is where Flavia Albia begins that journey. Oh the mysteries are great and the hunt for the perpetrators is a fierce one. However, overall it is the maturity of the compassionate humanity of characters that urges us forward to the more then satisfying ending while making us pleasantly impatient for the next installment. Oh please do not keep us waiting too long Beloved Author!!
4.0 out of 5 starsWhy isn’t this made into a tv series?
Reviewed in the United States on August 3, 2020
Ever since the first Falco book I have wondered why his series and this of his daughter haven’t been produced for tv. These characters and their stories are fun and interesting and probably historically more accurate than we will ever know. Who says the dialogues and inner thoughts were not just as written?
Flavia Albia has so many clues and such good reasons for her determination to find the perpetrators along several lines of inquiry. Independent as always, she proves able to work with others and get her own way at the same time. Family ties help her with auction antiquities and we get a glimpse of her beloved parents, too. As always, a satisfying job completed, Albia has a bright future ahead.
A new Lindsey Davis is always cause for rejoicing. The latest entry in the Flavia Albia series doesn't disappoint. While chasing a rapist murderer on the informer front, Flavia has to contend with changes at home and abroad. As always, Davis doesn't disappoint. Another good entry in the series.
I like the way that Albia has 'grown' up from being a teen in Britain to a widow in Rome. In anticipation of this new book I've re-read all of the Albia books over the past couple of months .. and just finished The Grove of the Caesars. I think that it's the best of the series so far and that's saying something since I've liked all of them. I've been a Davis fan ever since I stumbled upon Silver Pigs just after it was published in the USA. I was working on my Ph.D. and was desperate for something to read that wasn't academic stuff. I was browsing the 'New Books' section in the uni library and the title caught my attention. I read it, loved it and ended up buying it, and all the others as the years and career moved on. I now have everything in both print and Kindle.
3.0 out of 5 starsI liked it better than capitol death
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 20, 2020
I'm trying to warm to Albia but I can't like her as much as her dad! I also think her husband is a bit of a plot nuisance to the author! He's always being ill, or sent off to deal with family business as in this book, so LD doesn't have to think what to do with him. Tiberius and Albia aren't really a team in the way that Falco and Helena were. Albia is too independent for team work? Probably. I can see he is going to end up as a stay at home husband looking after the little nephews while she solves crimes and bosses the workforce in the builders' yard.
... occupy Albia while her husband is away for family reasons. We get to see more of Rome, and the Lads from their building company; a lot more of her household that gains two lads (see the short story Invitation to Die to find out how her Uncles ended up with these gifts from the Emperor), looses two lads and then - but that would be a spoiler. And forging ancient manuscripts. And gardens. Which is where we start this story, with Albia in a sarcastic, biting mood... But isn't she always?!
Another well-crafted story from the author, but that's just what you expect from Lindsey. A really obnoxious serial killer is eventually unmasked by our Albia. She also manages to uncover another murderess and clarifies the long-lost/forged scrolls saga. Has a fountain built at home; buys a new donkey; becomes an adopted-parent; makes a profit on goods auctioned, and all in a fortnight whilst her husband is away. A wonderful read.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 5, 2020
A great story, thank Jupiter. Flavia - sorry - Albia, has given up steering the tourists around Rome and is investigating a decent mystery. Or two. The first, scrolls by ancient philosophers found in an area being cleared by the builder's (Tiberius) boys. Second a poor woman foully murdered in the outskirts of a family party. All in the gardens created by the Caesers. We are back to having fun, jokes, a vigile , Ursus, who has a brain (not another joke) , but sadly we also have an absent Tiberius. His pregnant sister is ill off in the country. He goes to see her. We are never left in doubt of the love between Albia and Tiberius but due to her traumatic beginnings, job as an informer, and the dangers for women giving birth , there seems little hope of her ever passing on a combination of the genes of Tiberius and herself. That makes me sad. Just as I loved, love, Falco I also love Tiberius. Please, Lindsey, give the poor guy a break and ease up on the misery. Apart from all that this story of a forger and a serial killer actually ends thrillingly. Lindsey Davis back on form. Thoroughly recommended.