Another prejudice that might be history
My hesitation about such writing has two causes. First, is the inability of many authors to dispel the reader's nagging awareness that decades, centuries, even millennia have elapsed between the story's time and the author's. Then there is Lindsey Davis, whose historical research is so good and whose tone is so engagingly breezy that for me the two have interfered with one another, at least in her novels.
But I'm giving her another try because I've just visited the spectacular setting of one of her books. Fishbourne Roman Palace in Fishbourne, West Sussex on England's south coast, contains gorgeous Roman mosaics that are all the more moving because most are in situ, right where they were laid in the first and second centuries. Davis' novel A Body in the Bath House, part of her long-running series about Marcus Didius Falco, the Sam Spade/Philip Marlowe/Travis McGee of first-century Rome, sends Falco to far-away Britain in pursuit of some shoddy building contractors who have fled Rome. There, the palace later to be known as Fishbourne is under construction and plagued with problems that include fatal accidents.
At Fishbourne last week, a member of the staff told me that Davis launched her novel at the palace and that she was highly respected by historians and classicists. That and the memory of some funny lines from Davis' other work were good enough for me. I'm reading her again.
© Peter Rozovsky 2007
Rome crime fiction
historical crime fiction