This is the eighth in the series and I’m not entirely sure what it was about this one that I really enjoyed, but of these first eight, it is probably my second favourite (behind Venus in Copper).
At the request of Spanish olive oil producers, Falco attends a lunch along with several other honoured guests. One of which is his chief rival, the spy Anacrites. When several members of the party are attacked, including Anacrites, Falco must travel to Baetica in Spain to track down and question as many witnesses as possible but not before having to find shelter for his nemesis. Helena Justina is not happy, she is heavily pregnant and demanding that Falco be present for the birth. To ensure this she travels with him and becomes part of the investigation.
This is one of the most intriguing plots so far, plots within plots, possible industrial sabotage and price fixing… the sort of thing a lot of modern thrillers are made of. But what adds an extra dash of intrigue is that Falco has been charged with the care of Anacrites and to solve the attempted murder. Less funny than the others and increasingly fewer exclamation marks, this is arguably one of the strongest in the series so far.