Cover Image: Fatal Legacy

Fatal Legacy

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

This plot was very good but complicated with numerous characters.  I had to read slowly and carefully but it was so worth it. Fascinating. 
Many thanks to St. Martin’s Press and to Netgalley for providing me with a galley in exchange for my honest opinion.
Was this review helpful?
Lindsey Davis scores again with another novel of ancient Rome. Like her series of novels of private informer Falco, this second series, centered around Falco's adoptive daughter (and fellow informer/PI) Flavia Alba, is a well written, action packed, informative historical murder mystery. Davis does her homework, but doesn't flood the book with historical details that drown out the story. Instead all info is at the service of the characters and readers to establish the environment, inform behavior, and keep things interesting. Each Alba novel adds to character's life story and development and keeps me waiting impatiently for the next installment.
Was this review helpful?
Look I love Lindsey Davis. Her grasp of ancient Roman history is simply astounding and the way she infuses something most people are only familiar with from text books and college electives with just so much life and vitality never ceases to amaze me. I love that she essentially writes old fashioned detective noirs that just happen to be set during the reign of emperor Domnition.

I USUALLY love the cast of characters running in and out of the story and the surprise reveals that her wonderful detective (informer in ancient Roman terms) Flavia Albia uncovers.

I say usually because there are so many goddamn characters in this book that neither the cast of characters (two pages) nor the TWO family trees she supplies before the story even starts are enough to keep anyone straight. Add to that the ancient Roman tendency to use any one of three or four names depending on who they're talking to and I about lost my damn mind trying to keep everyone straight. Shocking revelations (that incidentally change a bunch of people's names and familial relationships as if my head wasn't already about to explode) were meaningless because I had no idea until I'd flipped back to the front and puzzled out someone's lineage who was even being talked about. Hell I couldn't even work out who Albia was even speaking to at any given moment!

Listen I love these books and I have no intention of ending my wonderful literary relationship with Ms. Davis but dear lord above can we have a slightly smaller cast of characters next time? Please? For the sake of my sanity?

I get that part of the point in this particular tale, that hinges on two families trapped in a decades long feud that involves multiple court battles, affairs, scams and even murder, is the red tape and insane complexity of the Roman legal system. But I need to at least know who the flippin' bad guys and good guys are!
Was this review helpful?
A lovely stroll through Ancient Rome, to solve a gritty mystery with a smart and tough Female!This writer is never a disappointment!
Was this review helpful?
I received this book for free from Netgalley. That did not influence this review.

The ancient Roman private investigator Flavia Albia is back in the eleventh novel in this mystery series by Lindsey Davis. The latest novel is Fatal Legacy. Although the story can stand alone, the relationships will make the most sense if you start from book one.

This book opens simply enough with a small debt collection. Two customers (seemingly an adulterous couple) leave the bar/eatery owned by Albia’s aunt without paying their bill. The aunt is furious and sends Albia out to identify them and collect – not a difficult task for the investigator. However, when Albia locates the family involved, she is asked by the matriarch to search for something else, proof that her younger brother is not a slave. They are a family of freedmen businesspeople. The matriarch’s niece wants to marry a handsome young citizen. The young man’s family, aware of their background, wants to be absolutely sure there is no lingering taint of slavery attached to the potential bride’s father. Unfortunately, the freeing of the slaves took place over forty years ago, the will is missing, and witnesses are gone, presumed dead.

As Albia searches for documents that may not exist, she becomes entangled in a knot of family feuds, lawsuits, and lies. She enlists the help of her own extended adoptive family and a host of acquaintances as she sorts out the mess. This case does not involve the same level of danger as her usual pursuits, but rather lays out a head-spinning multi-generational family brawl.

Albia uses her trademark irony and good sense to ferret out the truth. Her own clever husband is increasingly sidelined in the series now that they are happily married and he has retired from public life. In this novel, he is essentially a nonentity. While Albia insists that they are both committed to the marriage, it wouldn’t surprise this reader if he is eventually phased out. While his involvement is missed, Albia is competent enough to carry on alone.
Was this review helpful?
Thank you Netgalley and St. Martin's Press for access to this arc. 

To try to describe the plot is beyond me. Truly, it’s so convoluted and so intricate that to untie the Gordian Knot would be child’s play in comparison. The legal case at the heart of the plot might not have dragged on as long as that in “Bleak House,” but for 40 years two families have disputed the ownership of an orchard and railed against each other. But something even worse is at stake though. Is one man free or enslaved?

With a large cast of characters, it pays to try and remember who they are and how they’re related. Yet, just when I thought I had a handle on that, new layers would be revealed. As a private investigator, Flavia Albia is used to those she interviews – as well as often her clients – lying to her face. The ones in this book have it down to a fine art.

I’ll be honest and say that there are plenty of times when I had to stop and mentally review the who’s who here. Given the Roman naming system, many had similar appellations. The two families involved also had a few intermarriages. It was confusing. As Albia tried to figure out what her real case was about and then gathered clues, for a long time nothing appeared to join up. Then once things began to fall into place, I had some “Ah ha!” moments.

Albia does figure out who owns the orchard. I was more invested in the fate of a few people – one who had been lied to by a truly detestable slug and one who felt he was at fault for something. Seeing Albia get them justice was sweet. That it occurred with Helena, Falco, Albia’s siblings and husband in attendance provided the juicy cherry on top.
Was this review helpful?
The author, Lindsey Davis, is just a tish older than I am, and I used to worry that Marcus Didius Falco, one of my favorite all-time characters, would reach the end of his natural working life and I would be bereft.  Fortunately for all of Falco's legions of fans, Davis has provided us with Flavia Alba, Falco's adopted daughter, who is carrying on her father's profession as "informer," meaning detective.  "Fatal Legacy" is the eleventh installment in this second series, and it is excellent.

Those who are familiar with my reviews (all two of you) know that I hate spoilers and won't give any.  Please read the blurb.

And please read this book.  "Fatal Legacy" is absolutely up to the high standard which Davis has set for herself, and like all of her books it is a pleasure to read.  If you are not familiar with Falco and Alba, it is a good place to start, you won't have any trouble.  And then you have the great pleasure of the entire backlist to read.

Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for the ARC.
Was this review helpful?
Another terrific entry into a well established series that is still fine as a standalone.  This time out, Flavia is dealing with what might be termed more domestic issues- someone has stiffed her aunt's cafe and she's asked to find out whether a young man is really the son of a slave,  It might start slowly but trust that you will find a complex and engaging tale here with tricky questions.  And it's wonderful in its portrayal of daily life. Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC,  Excellent read,
Was this review helpful?
A Simple Task And So Difficult To Accomplish

The novel starts just after Saturnalia. It is a slow time as everyone was recovering from the holidays. To keep busy, Flavia Albia take on the case of finding a customer who had left the family greasy spoon, The Stargazer, without paying for himself and his girlfriend. With the help of a talented server at the Stargazer who draws their pictures on Albia’s wax tablet, she is successful in tracking down the identity of the man and where he lives. She talks to the woman, Euhodia, who tells her that it cannot be her son as he has been and still is out of town. When Euhodia sees the drawing of the woman, she recognizes her daughter. Albia receives the full due amount and her fee. Before Albia leaves, Euhodia asks if she can help in another matter. Her niece wants to marry a boy, but his family’s is questioning if the girl’s father is a slave. All Albia needs to do is prove Euhodia’s brother is a freeman. Albia now has a better paying job. From this simple task a very difficult a case proceeds.

There is only a single main storyline but what a complex storyline it is. Besides what information that Euhodia provides, Albia interviews the household slaves, and then goes to the other family and receives a different view. She discovers that both families and their slaves only provide the bare minimum of facts at best and sometimes lies. She discovers that the two families have been interaction over three to four generations. The interactions between the family are legal over a property and assaults, marriages and assignations, and landlord and renter. It seems that there are more connections between these families that connections between my brain cells. It took me some time to digest all this information. I have promised to read every ARC that I receive, but that promise was tested until this novel had not grabbed my attention by 50% in. Then, a connection was made that changed all that. My interest went into high gear. I actually began to enjoy reading this novel starting at this point.

As usual with Lindsey Davis, the character of Albia is well developed and continues to grow. This character information is well integrated into the main storyline. In many scenes she interacts with her entire family and household that brings Albia’s character into focus. I believe that this is true even if this is your first novel of hers to read. Albia’s relationship with her uncles, her parents, Helena and Falco, and her teenage sisters are the most I have seen in the previous Albia novels. This aspect of the novel enhanced my reading enjoyment.

As for what may discourage some readers, it will be hard to find something objectionable in this novel. There are not any amorous scenes. There are not any vulgar words with very few rude words. There are no impious language unless the Roman gods are important to you. There is some violence with one scene as it occurs, but I do not believe anyone will object and probably will bring a smile to your face as it did mine. I do recommend reading this novel on an e-reader with a good dictionary and Internet access. Lindsey Davis uses many old words to give an ancient ambiance to her novels. I used those to assets extensively while reading this novel. Lastly, you can read this novel without reading any of the previous novels as I did not find anything that depended upon knowledge from those novels.

The largest issue that I had and may stop readers from reading this novel completely is the slow beginning as the author lays the complex relationships between the two families upon which the rest of the novel depends. On the plus side, I enjoyed the greater role of Albia’s family, and the author’s frequent use of dry humor. My advice is to work through it, as, I believe, you will find that the novel becomes very enjoyable read in the last half. The author is my top Must-Read author and have read 33 of her novels. I do recommend reading this novel, with the caveat that I have mentioned several times. I rate this novel with four stars.

I received a free prepublication e-book version of this novel through NetGalley from St. Martin’s Press/Minotaur Press. My review is based solely on my own reading experience of this book. I wish to thank St. Martin’s Press/Minotaur Press for the opportunity to read and review this novel early.
Was this review helpful?
Flavia Albia returns in a new episode of the long running series.  Albia is the daughter of Marcus Didius Falco, now a retired upright citizen of Rome, AD 90.  She has taken up her father's former profession as a private investigator.  Her new case starts simple, with a diner at the family's cafe who runs out without paying.  But as she digs deeper, the case begins to twist and turn through the lives of two Roman families.

Its always fun to return to Rome with Flavia Albia, and the well-known characters from her family.  Her husband, Tiberius Manlius, is not as much in evidence in this novel, and I hope he will return!

I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Was this review helpful?
Fatal Legacy

I’m a big fan of Lindsey Davis’ Falco series and in fact have been going through them again via audiobook since it’s been years since I read them.  This is my first Flavia Albia one, so obviously I’m coming in having missed some big changes in the Falco family.  Unfortunately, I have to admit to being disappointed by this, though I’ll give the series another shot once I finish my reread/listen of the Falco books in hopes this was an anomaly. 

I won’t go too much into plot, it being a mystery. Basically, Flavia gets tasked with solving a seemingly mundane and trivial problem—finding someone who stiffed a bar for lunch.  Chasing down the culprits though leads her down a rabbit hole of secrets involving two families that have been at each other’s throats legally for decades.  We’ve got lawsuits, assaults, home invasions, adultery, elopement, questions over whether someone is a slave or free, and a connection to one of Falco’s old cases. 

As is always true with Davis, the writing is smooth and fluid and reading is effortless.  There’s a good sense of the time period and setting, again as always. And some typically wry humor.  What didn’t work for me was the way the story was plotted and conveyed.  It seemed to me a very “talky” book, with Flavia actually doing very little sleuthing. It just seemed like she went from person to person and got told a lot of info in interviews and eventually she was told everything she needed to “solve” the case.  I can’t say I felt any real sense of mystery, suspense, or tension.  Not a “bad” book, but a disappointing entry from an author whose work I so enjoy.
Was this review helpful?
A bit meh compared to recent books in this series for me, I'm afraid. Davis spends SO MUCH of the book working up to the big reveal(s) about the two families, and that kind of overshadowed the actual mystery.
Was this review helpful?
thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for the ARC
This is the latest instalment of Davis' Flavia Alba mystery series, so would recommend that readers have read some of the series prior to this. 4.5 - 5 out of 5, but does need to be read as part of the series
Flavia is settling into married life, and it's January in Rome. She's tasked by a relative with looking into a minor problem, and it leads (as usual) into a far more complicated series of events.
I love Flavia (and Falco) for the portrayal of Rome as a city with ordinary people who are just going about their day to day lives. The details are amazing, from food to fashion to architecture to comments on politics. 
The mysteries are often puzzle-based although Flavia can take care of herself if the need arises.
Recommend to fans of solid historical fiction and female protagonists.
Was this review helpful?
Another great entry in the Flavia Albia series, this one starting off with a seemingly benign request: to hunt down a man who skipped paying the tab at her aunt's bar.  Inquiries lead her to the family of the culprit, who conveniently find themselves in need of an informer.  The daughter of the youngest son is slated to get married, but the groom's family is demanding proof that the father is a freedman (as the family was previously enslaved).  Despite constantly saying she avoids such cases, Albia takes them on, but the search for will uncovers a decades long feud that spells trouble for poor Albia.  It was a nice change of pace to not have the case centered on a murder, the focus was on a domestic and legal dispute that was rather complex.  The complexity and amount of people involved-many of whom are related in some way-did make it hard to follow at times, and there were many people who popped back up in the end that I had completely lost track of.  However, the story was still great and Albia' character remains strong.  I did miss seeing her family as much as we've seen in the most recent books, but given the already large cast, it was best to focus on the key players.  Looking forward to more from Albia!
Was this review helpful?
A.D. 90. It all starts with an unpaid restaurant bill at her Aunt Julia's cafe that finds Flavia employed to find the couple to obtain payment, which then leads to another case. That of, is Tranquilus Postuminus an actual freedman or still a slave. As this will affect his daughter’s future marriage.
Flavia home life was enjoyable to read about but the story seemed overly complicated, and not as enjoyable as previous stories in the series.
An ARC was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
Another wonderfully written entry in the Flavia Albia series, it has everything that I was looking for in this series. I was engaged with the historical elements and thought it worked well overall in the universe. Lindsey Davis always does a great job and I'm glad I read this.
Was this review helpful?
The most amazing and fun Falco/Albia story yet! No matter how many mysteries are in the series, or how long the series gets, each one is as fabulous as the first!
Was this review helpful?