#AtoZChallenge 2024 letter D

Lindsey Davis

Lindsey Davis writes historical mysteries set in ancient Rome. Her first series of 20 books features a slightly seedy detective called Marcus Didius Falco. He is trying to avoid the family business which is a very corrupt antiques business. He knows how to find criminals because he’s been surrounded by them his entire life. Falco is funny and smart. This whole series humanizes Rome. It makes the city come alive and makes you understand what it was like to live there on a day to day basis.

The first book, The Silver Pigs, was published in 1989. The beauty of historical fiction though is that it doesn’t age like contemporary fiction. You can pick it up now and it will read the same.

Each book in the series does stand alone. You could pick any of them up and read them without reading the previous ones. However, over the course of the series you do meet his family and friends. He gets married and adopts children and pets. You may not have the full backstory if you start in the middle.

Falco was based on the author’s husband. When he died, she decided to stop writing the character. In the story, Falco retired. His daughter, Flavia Albia, is now the focus of a new series. I haven’t enjoyed these ones as much. She’s a bit fancier. Her Rome isn’t as down and dirty as his was. It may be true to life as a Roman matron but I haven’t found it as interesting.


Finlay Ashowan is a house witch. He makes his home safe. In his case his home is the royal castle. He’s serving as the royal cook but his influence is starting to spread. People are starting to notice that he is having a strange effect on the people around him. Meals are tasting better. He is also making those meals with no assistants. He’s taking knights to task for harassing maids. There is also something really weird about that cat he has hanging around. Can the kingdom overcome their prejudice towards unusual magic in order to let a house witch help save them?

I love, love, love this series. There is now a secondary series starting with Finlay’s daughter and I hate it. I’m so sad. I want to read it. I think I need to read it because the next series is going to be about a character I like. But the daughter is just a horrible, grating selfish person and I think that we are meant to think that she is cute somehow. I’d be ok with it if she was going to get her comeuppance and grow as a person but I’m afraid that’s not going to happen. But don’t let that put you off the first series. It is an absolute delight!