Falco, Family and Business

Book Cover, Ode to a Banker

“[The creditor] examines your family affairs; he meddles with your transactions. If you go forth from your chamber, he drags you along with him and carries you off; if you hide yourself inside he stands before your house and knocks at the door.

If [the debtor] sleeps, he sees the moneylender standing at his head, an evil dream … If a friend knocks a the door he hides under the couch. Does the dog bark? He breaks out in a sweat. The interest due increases like a hare, a wild animal which the ancients believed could not stop reproducing even while it was nourishing the offspring already produced.” Basil of Caesarea

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Falco – The Official Companion

Falco, the Official Companion, is the last book (maybe) in the Marcus Didius Falco series. The author has recently completed two novels in the Flavia Alba series -The heroine is Falco’s adopted daughter, Flavia Albia, who has grown from a troubled teenager to a feisty widow and who is an investigator in her own right. Meanwhile, this book, Falco, the Official Companion is chock full of interesting information about Falco’s Rome.

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Leadership Reflections

Book Cover, The Iron Hand of MarsIn this part of examining the issues raised in Lindsey Davis’s novel The Iron Hand of Mars, we will be taking a look at Leadership, or more specifically, leadership by historical and fictional characters as presented in this work of historical fiction. Due the nature of the environment (Rome and its military legions, and the activities thereof) observations about the nature of leadership generally, are raised.

You may wish to read The Iron Hand of Mars, novel by Lindsey Davis.

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Human Values and the Falco novels

human valuesThe Falco Novels cover a wide range of human behaviour. All behaviour is values-driven. After all, people, usually seek their own good, their own ends. Look after Number 1 would be a common value held by many people. Giving to the poor and charity would be another value held by others.

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Human Values

human valuesOur values are our principles, our guides. Values are our codes of internal conduct, the principles upon which we run our lives and make our decisions. Our first values are given to us by our parents, and these are added to by those values given to us by our peers, our teachers, the wider community. Our moral values are often sourced from our faith systems. It is from these that we select the principles which rule our lives and our behaviours.

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Nemesis

Book Cover, AlexandriaRome, AD 77 AD, two years before the eruption of Vesuvius – best known for its eruption of AD 79 that led to the destruction of the Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum.

Some say Nemesis is the Avenging Angel; the retribution of the Gods for the sin of hubris, arrogance, under heaven. Others say Nemesis is the Arch-enemy, an antagonist who stands out from the rogues gallery. Thus, Falco and Petro are faced with an undiscovered nemesis, patron of rather odd cultic murders, until the pieces fall into place.

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Alexandria

Book Cover, AlexandriaMarch 2009; I have found a copy of Alexandria, and just finished reading it. Delighted. A review will appear here soon.

Before publication, I was doing a search for new Falco websites (I found Microsoft’s Powerset, which appears to be a Wikipedia enhancement) (some enhancement…. ) when lo—and—behold, I found Alexandria in the search results. Random House had put up a taster and the blurb. Well, now that the proper book cover is available, I have refreshed it with the correct book cover.

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Saturnalia

Book Cover, Saturnalia

It is the Season of Misrule in Rome, sheer misery for Falco. Uppity slaves give orders to their cringing masters, masters try to hide in their studies, women are goosed, statues wobble, a prince has a broken heart, Helena’s brother will not decide if his heart is broken or not, children are sick and even the dog can’t stand it any more.

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See Delphi and Die

Book Cover, Scandal takes a holidayThrough his brother-in-law Aulus, Falco hears details of two young Roman women who have died in Greece while seeing the sights of the ancient world. Falco and his wife, Helena, travel to Greece to meet up with the tour party which included one of the women, seeking clues to her murder, passing through Olympia, Corinth, Delphi and the oracle of Trophonius at Lebadeia before finally arriving at Athens.

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Scandal Takes a Holiday

Book Cover, Scandal takes a holidayMarcus Didius Falco and Helena Justina travel to Ostia Antica, ostensibly on holiday. However, Falco is forced to confess to Petronius – present there on secondment – that he is in fact investigating the disappearance of Infamia, the pen name of the scribe who writes the gossip column for the Daily Gazette. He is at first believed to be merely a drunken truant, however investigations uncover some murky secrets.

All Rome reads this and eagerly awaits its publication. People love defamation.

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The Accusers

Book Cover, The AccusersFresh from his trip to Britannia, Marcus Didius Falco needs to re-establish himself back in Rome. A minor role in the trial of a senator entangles him in the machinations of two lawyers: Silus Italicus and Paccius Africanus, both ex-consuls with notorious reputations.

Rome, Autumn AD 75. Falco reflects on informers in general:

I had been an informer for over a decade when I finally learned what the job entailed.

There were no surprises. I knew how society viewed us: lowborn hangers-on, upstarts too impatient for honest careers, or corrupt nobles. The lowest grade was proudly occupied by me, Marcus Didius Falco, son of the utterly plebeian rogue Didius Favonius, heir to nothing and possessing only nobodies for ancestors. My most famous colleagues worked in the Senate and were themselves senators. In popular thought we were all parasites, bent on destroying respectable men.

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The Jupiter Myth

Book Cover, The Jupiter Myth

Londinium, Britannia in August AD 75. Falco reflects on his role in the greater scheme of things:

Hilaris was the important one here. He was the procurator of finance in Britain. To put it in perspective, I was a procurator myself but my role—which involved theoretical oversight of the Sacred Geese of Juno—was one of a hundred thousand meaningless honours handed out by the Emperor when he owed someone a favour and was too mean to pay in cash. Vespasian reckoned my services had cost enough, so he settled up remaining debts with a joke. That was me: Marcus Didius Falco, The Imperial Clown.

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A Body in the Bath House

Book Cover, A Body in the Bath HouseRome. Novomagius, Britannia, AD75. Falco (the spy who came in from the cold) is in cold, cold, cold Old Britannia, with memories to boot. It was here that he first met Helena Justina.

Falco arrives at Fishbourne and starts by investigating corrupt practices. However events quickly take a turn for the worse when the Chief Architect is found murdered in the bath-house of the British King. Falco takes over the project and investigates the killings.

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Ode to a Banker

Book Cover, Ode to a Banker

Rome. July – August AD 74. Falco is to give a poetry recital with Rutilus Gallicus, and Caesar Domitain is expected. Aurelius Chrysippus, a wealthy Greek banker and vanity publisher, introduces the event and is found dead the next day. With Rubellus absent, and the vigiles busy, Petro hires Faco to resolve the murder.

Families and backgrounds, past history and present day relationships inform many parts of this narrative, both in Falco’s family and Chrysippus’s family; Chrysippus had divorced and remarried. His first wife still operated their bank with a freedman, one Lucrio.

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Last Act in Palmyra

Book Cover, Last Act in Palmyra

AD72, and Anacrites has ducked a fact-gathering mission for Vespasian, and sends Falco … whom he promptly betrays to a camel driver (Falco’s pseudonym for a nabataean chief minister) before he departs. Ah, this enmity between Anacrites and Falco. Will it ever end?

The scene is Petra, Nabataea, an independent kingdom and trade centre which somewhat liberally taxes goods en route and so attractive to Roma as a trading partner and future annexure to the Empire. Falco and Helena Justina are on a fact gathering mission for Vespasian. Falco has other reasons – he is on the lookout for a missing water organist, one Sophrona. He’ll be paid if he finds his quarry.

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