Thursday, 18 January 2001

Lindsey Davis: Two for the Lions (1998)

Edition: Century, 1998
Review number: 721

It seems incredible that Davis' enjoyable Falco series could have already reached its tenth instalment, yet this is it. He has ended up working with one-time Empire Chief Spy Anacrites, whom he despises. The Emperor Vespasian is currently organising a tax census, and the two of them are given the job of investigating returns which seem too low, in return for a percentage of the extra they collect. They concentrate on a seedy but profitable industry, the supply of animals and gladiators for the circus. While they are carrying out an audit of one supplier, one of his lions is killed, and Falco becomes fascinated by the mystery of the animal's death.

Basically, if you like the other Falco novels, this one will please you too. It is amusing, and a well-constructed mystery. The background is not quite as well done as usual; this seems to be because Davies has smoothed out some of the rougher edges to counteract modern distaste for Roman popular entertainment. While Two For the Lions is not a good source of historical data on the circuses, it is fun, enjoyable and lightweight.

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