After the end of the Marcus Didius Falco series, Lindsey Davis didn’t stop here, keeping the investigations going with a new investigator. Adopted daughter of Marcus Didius Falco and Helena Justina, Flavia Albia learned from her mother how to blend in at all levels of society; and from her father, the tricks of their mutual professional trade. Now, she’s working as a private informer in Rome during the reign of Domitian.
As Lindsay Davis describes her, Flavia Albia is “shrewd, talented, sympathetic to the pain of others, warm-hearted to those she loves-yet tough, stoical, no-nonsense, and gorgeously stroppy.”
How to read the Flavia Albia Series in Order?
Every entry in the Flavia Albia book series works as a standalone story, but the lives of the different characters evolve from one novel to the other.
- The Ides of April – Flavia has taken over her father’s old ramshackle digs at Fountain Court in the Surbura district, where she plies her trade with energy, determination, and the usual Falco luck. Recently hired to help investigate a fatal accident, she finds herself stuck with a truly awful person for a client and facing a well-heeled, well-connected opponent. That is until her client unexpectedly dies under what might be called “suspicious circumstances.”
- Enemies at Home – In Ancient Rome, the number of slaves was far greater than that of free citizens. As a result, Roman law decreed that if the head of a household was murdered at home, and the culprit wasn’t quickly discovered, his slaves were presumed responsible and were put to death. When a couple is found dead in their own bedroom and their house burglarized, some of their household slaves know what is about to happen to them. They flee to the Temple of Ceres, which by tradition is respected as a haven for refugees. This is where Flavia Albia comes in.
- Deadly Election – Flavia Albia is ready for a short break from her family. So despite the oppressive July heat, she returns to Rome, leaving them at their place on the coast. It’s time to get back to work. The first order of business, however, regards the corpse that was found in a chest sent as part of a large lot to be sold by the Falco family auction house. As the senior family representative in Rome, Albia must identify the corpse, find out why he was killed, who killed him, and most importantly, how he ended up in the chest.
- The Graveyard of the Hesperides – Flavia Albia’s beloved, the plebeian Manlius Faustus, has recently moved in and decided that they should get married in a big, showy ceremony as part of beginning a proper domestic life together. Also, his contracting firm has been renovating a rundown dive bar called The Garden of the Hesperides, only to uncover human remains buried in the backyard. In the choice between planning a wedding and looking into a crime from long ago, Albia would much rather investigate a possible murder.
- The Third Nero – In 90 A.D., following the Saturninus revolt in Germany, Emperor Domitian has become more paranoid about traitors and dissenters around him. Wanting to root out all the support of Saturninus from the Senate, one of Domitian’s men offers to hire Flavia Alba to do some intelligence work.
- Pandora’s Boy – Flavia Albia occasionally lets her love of a good puzzle get in the way of her common sense. Such is the case when one such puzzle is brought to her by the very hostile ex-wife of Albia’s new husband. It seems that over on the Quirinal Hill, a naive young girl, one Clodia Volumnia, has died, and there’s a suggestion that she was poisoned by a love potion. The local witch, Pandora, would have been the one to supply such a potion. Looking into the matter, Albia soon learns that Pandora carries on a trade-in herbal beauty products while keeping hidden her much more dangerous connections.
- A Capitol Death – A man falls to his death from the Tarpeian Rock, which overlooks the Forum in the Capitoline Hill in Ancient Rome. While it looks like a suicide, one witness swears that she saw it happen and that he was pushed. Normally, this would attract very little official notice but this man happened to be in charge of organizing the Imperial Triumphs demanded by the emperor. Normally, the investigation would be under the auspices of her new(ish) husband but, worried about his stamina following a long recovery, private informer Flavia Albia steps in.
- The Grove of the Caesars – Julius Caesar left his gardens to the citizens of Rome, a peaceful sanctuary across the Tiber. Now the gardens and their sacred grove are dangerous haunts, especially for women alone. ‘Don’t go to the Grove,’ people mutter, but when her husband has to leave Rome, it falls to Flavia Albia to supervise his building project in an old grotto. Why has someone buried tattered scrolls by obscure philosophers – and does it involve a worse crime than terrible writing?
- A Comedy of Terrors – In Rome, 89 A.D., poisonings, murders, and a bloody gang war of retribution breaks out during the festival of Saturnalia, and when her husband, Tiberius, becomes a target, it’s time for Flavia Albia to take matters into her own hands.
- Desperate Undertaking – This time a commission shows up on Flavia Albia’s doorstep – someone is staging brutal murders in some of the most beautiful buildings in Rome, each staging different. So far, the only clue was the phrase that one survivor managed to croak, “The undertaker did it…” With little to go on and bodies starting to pile up, Albia has to unravel the strangest mystery of her career in short order if she’s to stop this dismaying orgy of murder.
- Fatal Legacy – An unpaid bar bill leads Flavia Albia to her most bitter and complex case yet. Decades earlier Appius Tranquillus Surus wrote his will: it freed his slaves and bequeathed his businesses to them. He left an orchard to the Prisci, a family he was friendly with, on the condition that his freedmen could still take its harvest. The convoluted arrangement has led to a feud between the two families, each of which has its own internal strife. Endless claims and counterclaims lead to violence and even death. Lawyers have given up in exasperation as the case limps on. The original will has disappeared, along with a falsified codicil – and might there be another one?
- Death on the Tiber – Coming in 2024.
If you like our article about the Flavia Albia reading order, don’t forget to bookmark it! You may also be interested in the John Rawlings series by Deryn Lake. Don’t hesitate to follow us on Twitter or Facebook to discover more book series.