This is the first in a highly successful series of historical crime novels set in First Century Rome. At the end of the year of the four Emperors, Marcus Didius Falco, an informer by trade (essentially a private detective) has the unfortunate honour of stumbling upon a conspiracy to trade silver ingots (pigs) on the black market. When the young girl who brought it to his attention is killed, Falco is hired by her father to find the killer and simultaneously hired by Emperor Vespasian to unravel the plot. His journey takes him to Britain, a province he loathes, where he meets the girl’s sister Helena Justina and together they begin to unravel the plot.
Lindsey Davis’ writing is both approachable and informative, often with a lot of humour. So you will usually fly through a Falco book laughing and being amazed at the plot and the research. The characters are larger than life and though these elements may not seem to fit together, they do so rather well. Falco is a likeable yet flawed character.
My only real gripe is her overuse of exclamation marks; it sometimes makes her style seem childish and that cheapens what a superb writer she is.