Before the Flavia Albia series.
What is the Marcus Didius Falco series about?
The fictional central character and narrator in the series of historical mystery crime novels by Lindsey Davis, Marcus Didius Falco is solving crimes in the Roman Empire under Vespasian.
More precisely, Marcus Didius Falco is a private investigator (or an informer/imperial agent)… and an amateur poet. He is working in Rome’s empire during the first century.
Marcus Didius Falco Books in Order:
Every book in the Marcus Didius Falco series works as a standalone story, but the lives of the different characters evolve from one novel to the other.
- The Silver Pigs – When Marcus Didius Falco encounters the young Sosia Camillina in the Forum, he senses immediately that there is something amiss. When she confesses that she is fleeing for her life, Falco offers to help her and, in doing so, he gets himself mixed up in a deadly plot involving stolen ingots, dangerous and dark political machinations, and, most hazardous of all, one Helena Justina, a brash, indominable senator’s daughter connected to the very traitors that Falco has sworn to expose.
- Shadows in Bronze – It’s the first century CE in Rome and Marcus Didius Falco is miserable. The high-born woman he fell in love with, Helena Justina, has broken off their impossible affair. So when Emperor Vespasian assigns Falco a task that will take him out of Rome, he can’t wait. Disguised as vacationer in the company of his comrade Petronius Longus, captain of the Aventine Watch, Falco travels south to Neapolis, Capreae and Pompeii where he discovers a conspiracy involving the Egyptian grain shipment to Rome.
- Venus in Copper – Rome, AD 71. Marcus Didius Falco is desperate to leave the notorious Lautumiae prison – though being bailed out by his mother is a slight indignity… Things go from bad to worse though when a group of nouveau riche ex-slaves hires him to outwit a fortune-hunting redhead, whose husbands have a habit of dying accidentally, leaving him up against a female contortionist, her extra-friendly snake, indigestible cakes and rent racketeers.
- The Iron Hand of Mars – When Germanic troops in the service of the Empire begin to rebel, and a Roman general disappears, Emperor Vespasian turns to the one man he can trust: Marcus Didius Falco. To Falco, an undercover tour of Germania is an assignment from Hades. On a journey that only a stoic could survive, Falco meets with disarray, torture, and murder. His one hope: in the northern forest lives a powerful Druid priestess who perhaps can be persuaded to cease her anti-Rome activities and work for peace.
- Poseidon’s Gold – After six months in wild Germania, Marcus Didius Falco is back in Rome-but his apartment has been ransacked. And although he desperately needs 400,000 sesterces in order to marry his aristocratic love, Helena, his only client is his mother, who insists that he find out whether the scandalous claims against his dead brother, Festus, are true.
- Last Act in Palmyra – The spirit of adventure calls Marcus Didius Falco on a new spying mission for Emperor Vespasian to the untamed East. He’s picking up extra fees from his old friend Thalia the snake dancer as he searches for Sophrona, her lost water organist. With the Chief Spy Anacrites paying his fare, Falco knows anything can go wrong.
- Time to Depart – Petronius Longus, captain of the Aventine watch and Falco’s oldest friend, has finally nailed one of Rome’s top criminals. Under Roman law citizens are not imprisoned but are allowed ‘time to depart’ into exile outside the Empire. One dark and gloomy dawn Petro and Falco put Balbinus aboard ship. But soon after, an outbreak of robbery and murder suggests a new criminal ring has moved into Balbinus’ territory.
- A Dying Light in Corduba – Nobody was poisoned at the dinner for the Society of Oliver Oil Producers of Baetica, though in retrospect this was quite a surprise… On one night, a man is killed and Rome’s Chief of Spies is left for dead. This leaves no one except Marcus Didius Falco to conduct the investigation. Soon he is plunged into the fiercely competitive world of olive oil production. Political intrigue, an exotic Spanish dancer and impending fatherhood all add to Falco’s troubles.
- Three Hands in the Fountain – Marcus Didius Falco and his friend Petronius find their local fountain has been blocked- by a gruesomely severed human hand. Soon other body parts are being found in the aqueducts and sewers. Public panic overcomes official indifference, and the Aventine partners are commissioned to investigate.
- Two for the Lions – Lumbered with working alongside reptilian Chief Spy Anacrites, Marcus Didius Falco has the perfect plan to make money– he will assist Vespasian in the Emperor’s ‘Great Census’ of AD73. His potential fee could finally allow him to join the middle ranks and be worthy of long-suffering Helena Justina. Unexpectedly confronted with the murder of a man-eating lion, Falco is distracted from his original task, uncovering a bitter rivalry between the gladiators’ trainers.
- One Virgin Too Many – Marcus Didius Falco is back from a difficult mission in North Africa. As a result of his hard work, Emperor Vespasian awards Falco with the title of Procurator of Poultry for the Senate & People of Rome, or keeper of the city’s sacred geese. Not much of a salary, of course, but the title does give him a better standing with his in-laws. Now, all Falco wants is to spend time relaxing at home with his family. But there is no rest for Falco as he finds himself drawn into the world of the Roman religious cults…& the murder of a member of the Sacred Brotherhoods.
- Ode to a Banker – In the long, hot Roman summer of AD 74, Marcus Didius Falco gives a reading for his family and friends. The event is taken over by Aurelius Chrysippus, a wealthy Greek banker and patron to a group of struggling writers, who offers to publish Falco’s work. A visit to the Chrysippus scriptorium implicates Falco in a gruesome literary murder, so when commissioned to investigate, Falco is forced to accept.
- A Body in the Bath House – Some things never change. With his new villa, Falco also gets a timeless headache: building contractors. After the departure of two shady plasterers, a rank odor in the bathhouse soon leads to the discovery of a corpse under the mosaic floor. Should Marcus Didius Falco follow the culprits to remote Britannica? Despite the British weather (damp), the inhabitants (barbarians), and the wine (second-rate), Falco takes his whole family and goes.
- The Jupiter Myth – For Marcus Didius Falco, a relaxed visit to his wife Helena’s relatives in Britain suddenly turns serious. He and his family are staying in London when Falco is summoned to the scene of a murder. The victim, Verovolcus, was a renegade with ties to Roman crime magnates operating in London, but he was also close to King Togidubnus. So when he is discovered dead, stuffed headfirst down a well, a tricky diplomatic situation develops that Falco must defuse.
- The Accusers – Fresh from a trip to far-flung Londinium in Britain, Marcus Didius Falco needs to re-establish his presence in Rome. A minor role in the trial of a senator entangles him in the machinations of two powerful lawyers. The senator is convicted but then dies, apparently by suicide. It may have been a legal move to protect his heirs; Falco is hired to prove it was murder.
- Scandal Takes a Holiday – In the wealthy town of Ostia, Marcus Didius Falco appears to be enjoying a relaxing holiday. But when Helena arrives carrying a batch of old copies of the Daily Gazette – with the intention of catching up on the latest scandal – Falco is forced to admit to Petronius his real reasons for being there – ‘Infamia’, the pen name of the scribe who writes the gossip column for the Daily Gazette, has gone missing.
- See Delphi and Die – Its A.D. 76 during the reign of Vespasian, and Marcus Didius Falco has achieved much in his life. Hes joined the equestrian rank, allowing him to marry Helena Justina, the Senators beloved daughter. But now he’s just been hired to undergo a dangerous mission: to pry his brother-in-law Aulus, a scholar on the way to study in Athens, away from a murder investigation involving two dead women at the ancient site of the Olympic Games.
- Saturnalia – It’s 76 A.D. during the reign of Vespasian and the Roman festival of Saturnalia is getting underway. The days are short; the nights are for wild parties. But not for Marcus Didius Falco. His job is to uncover unwelcome truths and deal with sensitive situations, frequently at the behest of the imperial government. So when a general’s famous female conquest escapes from house arrest-leaving a horrendous murder in her wake-Falco is on the case.
- Alexandria – Marcus Didius Falco and his wife, Helena Justina, with their two young children and others in tow, travel to Alexandria, Egypt. But they aren’t there long before Falco finds himself in the midst of nefarious doings – when the Head Librarian of the world-famous library is found dead under suspicious circumstances, in his office with the door locked from inside.
- Nemesis – In the high summer of 77AD, Marcus Didius Falco is beset by personal problems. Newly bereaved and facing unexpected upheavals in his life, it is a relief for him to consider someone else’s misfortunes. A middle-aged couple who supplied statues to his father, Geminus, have disappeared in mysterious circumstances. They had an old feud with a bunch of notorious freedmen, the Claudii, who live rough in the pestilential Pontine Marshes, terrorizing the neighborhood.
For more, go read the Flavia Albia series.