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Davis, Lindsey. Saturnalia; a Marcus Didius Falco novel.

DAVIS, Lindsey. Saturnalia; a Marcus Didius Falco novel. Read by Christian Rodska. 10 cds. 12.25 hrs. BBC Audiobooks America. 2007. 978-0-7927-4845-8. $94.95. Vinyl; plot, author, reader notes. SA

The 18th novel in the Marcus Didius Falco series, set in Ancient Rome, finds the intrepid informer working for Vespasian. He is looking for an escaped prisoner who may have murdered a nobleman and left his severed head in the atrium pool. The runaway is a German prophetess named Veleda, a former lover of Falco's brother-in-law Justinus, who is also missing. Is Justinus just avoiding a fight with his fiery Spanish wife or is he trying to save Veleda from the death sentence that awaits her? Also troubling are the strangled bodies of vagrants in the streets. Falco is helped by his patrician wife Helena and hindered by Anacrites, the Chief Spy. The usual characters are here too: Falco's young daughters Julia and Favonia; Petronius Longus and the vigils; the handsome playboy Titus Caesar; Falco's shifty father and ill-humored sisters; and Nux the dog. The story plays out against the background of first-century Rome during Saturnalia, a weeklong celebration including silly costumes, drunken revelry, and family dinners.

Award-winning Rodska gives his usual full-voiced reading. He does women particularly well, especially old crones. This time he also gets to do tipsy firefighters, a loony old man who thinks he's a ghost, two doddering witches named Dora and Delia, the aforementioned Spanish virago, and several German immigrants. Helena is pregnant again, so bring on book 19. Recommended to fans of the series, to students of Roman history and culture, and to anyone with a sense of humor. Janet Julian, English Teacher (retired), Grafton, MA

S--Recommended for senior high school students.

A--Recommended for advanced students and adults. This code will help librarians and teachers working in high schools where there are honors and advanced placement students. This is also will help extend KLIATT's usefulness in public libraries.
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Author:Julian, Janet
Article Type:Young adult review
Date:May 1, 2008
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