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Novel Review: Lindsey Davis's ' The Ides of April'

An Air Warrior and devotee of Lord Krishna has published over 100 short stories and 10 books on fiction and 4 on military history.


One of my friends at the Singapore club gave me a book titled the "Ides of April" to read. The book by British writer Lindsey Davis was written about 8 years back. Lindsey was born in Birmingham in 1949 and has carved a niche for her in the literary world as a writer of historical detective stories. I had heard of the "Ïdes of March" immortalized by William Shakespeare in his play"Julius Ceaser". The great Roman leader was stabbed to death by a group of conspirators led by his best friend Brutus. This was in 32BC.

Lindsey Davis is a lady writer with a fertile imagination. She has borrowed the idea of the "Ides" and written a novel titled the ‘The Ides of April" This is’ a thrilling detective crime novel set in ancient Rome.

Lindsey Davis’s forte is writing crime fiction. Her scenario is the ancient Roman era. There are very few writers who can transform the world of crime to that ancient era. There are many crime and thriller writers notable being Agatha Christie and James Hadley Chase but I do not know of any writer who writes detective stories with a bygone age as the background. Lindsey deserves credit for using her imagination to write stories during the period of the Roman Empire.

For readers who may not be aware Lindsey Davies has created an endearing character who features in many novels. She has created the character Falco and I will say it is almost similar to the character father Brown created by GK Chesterton.

Davis has written close to 20 books with Falco as the main character. This is a tribute to her resilience and creativity. After writing all these books with Falco as the central character she thought it about time to digress and this she has done with the novel "Ides of April". In this novel, she has created another character named Flavia Alba. This novel appeared in 2013 and in 2014 a second novel with Flavia Alba as the main character was also published.


The book

Flavia Alba is a character created in the genre of detective fiction like Hercule Poirot of Agatha Christie. She is a 28-year-old widow who is born in England. Lindsey further digresses and relates to the reader that she is the adopted daughter of Marcus Didius Falco. I have already mentioned that this character Falco has been the hero of almost 20 of her earlier novels. In this novel, the character Falco does not physically appear but his vein runs throughout the novel. Lindsey has written the novel in the first person and as the story unfolds the narrator is Flavia Alba.

Lindsey has created a fascinating character. She is a detective who lives alone. As she stays alone she is susceptible to love. Lindsey uses the power of the fiction writer to write the tale when Rome was ruled by emperor Domitian. He had unleashed a reign of terror during his rule and this is a historical fact.

The story is riveting from the word go as a client of Flavia Alba, a woman is murdered. She begins her investigations and as the investigation progresses she finds that more murders take place. Nobody seems to be taking note of these murders as the magistrate of the area is more interested in making arrangements for the games of Ceres a Fox `Hunting Festival.

The writer now brings in a romantic angle and as Flavia staying all alone she falls in love with Andronicus, a handsome young man. The author creates the picture of a woman thirsting for love and company and the heroine gives herself to her lover without any inhibitions. But all along she has some doubts about her lover though she can't fathom what they are.

The excitement begins when the games commence. The killer knows that detective Flavia is after him and he resolves to kill her. He's the man who knows the entire city of Rome like the palm of his hand and he can traverse the lanes and by-lanes with ease.

This is a wonderful book to read if you would like to read something about history as well as crime fiction. The book runs to 368 pages and that's pretty long but once the reader starts reading he or she will flip the pages and not be bored.

A prolific writer

Lindsey Davis never married and lives in London. Not much is known of her personal life but she has won many awards. She won the Sherlock Award for the Best Comic Detective in 2000 for Didius Falco. In 2011 she won the Cartier Diamond Dagger from the Crime writers association. In 2013 she won the first Barcelona Historical Novel Prize.

Davis was not a born writer and after her graduation from Oxford University joined the civil service and served as a civil servant for 13 years. That is about the time she wrote a novel for one of the woman's magazines. This novel won the Georgette Heyer historical novel prize. There was no looking back after that and she resigned from the civil service and concentrated on writing historical novels laced with crime and detection.

Over the years Lindsey has been a prolific writer and har last two books" Ä Capital Death" and "The Grove of the Ceasars "have been published in 2019/20


MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on September 20, 2020:

Thank you Bill for your comment

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on September 20, 2020:

Thank you for the review!

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on September 19, 2020:

Thank you Flourish, read her books I am sure you like them.

FlourishAnyway from USA on September 19, 2020:

Good for her that she has taken on an angle no one else has attempted and done so well at it. It seems like an interesting idea and worth exploring.

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