Murder at the ancient Olympic Games.
In a.d. 76, that experienced informant Marcus Didius Falco is asked to probe the sad and unexplained death of Marcella Caesius, the beloved only daughter of wealthy widower Caesius Secundus. Marcella disappeared during a sightseeing tour at the Olympics three years ago. After a fruitless investigation and a good bit of time, her body has been found. But this is no consolation to her bereft father. With the 214th Olympic Games coming up, Falco takes an entourage, including his shrewd wife, Helena, and his rambunctious nephews Gaius and Cornelius, to investigate. Another young woman, Valeria Ventidia, has also died on a sightseeing expedition, though under violent circumstances. So taking the tour with Seven Sights Travel seems a logical starting point for the investigation. It also allows Davis to fold in lots of interesting historical detail. The party climbs the Acropolis, visits the oracle at Delphi and gets a close-up look at athletes preparing. (Maybe too close-up: There’s a narrow getaway from some rabid wrestlers.) When Falco is sidetracked by local attractions, Helena presses to keep the investigation moving. Gaius and Cornelius turn up missing on the way to a bittersweet solution that’s a tribute to the complexity and depth of this series.
Falco’s 17th case is as elegant and intelligent as any of its predecessors (Scandal Takes a Holiday, 2005, etc.).