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by Lindsey Davis
Mysterious Press, November 2000
336 pages
ISBN: 0446677698

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

I've been reading Lindsey Davis since her first book, Silver Pigs. Her book and the series were such an eye-opener. I had not been too much of a fan of historical mysteries, which seemed a bit fusty and twee to me up until I met Marcus Didius Falco.

The story in One Virgin Too Many (a great title and happily, she's done with the metals theme) is as entertaining and educational and everything you like about the Falco books, and some of the things that have driven me away as well.

I admit it - I hate Falco's family. Hate it, hate it. They are totally annoying, rude, pushy, out of control and without any socially redeeming value. That Falco cannot say no to any of his family - mother, father, sister - all of whom I'd run away to avoid - says a lot about him. Sure, he feels guilty that he's in love with a wealthy woman, and apparently still feels like he's not in the right profession, or whatever. I don't want to do armchair analysis, but sheesh, he just doesn't stand up for himself. And I'm on record for whining about characters without backbone; usually they're female mystery protagonists. Falco's one of the few men who could stand a little starch.

What pulls you along in the fascinating history of early Rome and the way people live. In this place and time, politics affects everything - everyday decisions, religion, especially religion. A girl come to Falco saying someone in her family is trying to kill her; Falco, understandably pushes the girl away. Helena, Falco's girlfriend, pursues the problem - the girl is a member of a very religious family and is destined to be a new Vestal Virgin. She is important and valuable, and young. She is surrounded by controlling family with differing agendas.

Falco's hangdog self-image is getting harder to put up with all the time for me. He may be a realist, may be a cynic, but Rome is a very unlovely place as seen through his eyes. Lots of complainers and snobs and demanding types who need his help but look down on him at the same time. Davis is a wonderful writer, but I wish her character weren't such a nebbish. --

http://www.drizzle.com/~roscoe - Stu & Andi's "The Roscoe Page" http://www.drizzle.com/~roscoe/tshirts.html - Original cartoon silk-screened t-shirts - some Sherlockian, Wodehousian & others still available. Check out the new 'Roscoe Store' pages at CafePress! We now have an assortment of imprinted items with original Stu Shiffman art: http://www.cafeshops.com/cp/store.aspx?s=roscoestore - "The Game's Afoot!" Sherlock Holmes & Dr. Watson http://www.cafeshops.com/cp/store.aspx?s=roscoestore2 - "Nero Woof," a Funny Animal version of Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe. "Rex Trout takes notes on Nero Woof". http://www.cafeshops.com/cp/store.aspx?s=Roscoestore3 - "I Love a History Mystery!" Ancient Roman detective. http://www.cafeshops.com/cp/store.aspx?s=Roscoestore4 - "I Love a History Mystery!" Medieval mysteries.

Reviewed by Andi Shechter, January 2001

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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