Authors: Lindsey Davis
If you purchase this book without a cover you should be aware that the book may have been stolen property and reported as “unsold and destroyed” to the publisher. In such case neither the author nor the publisher has received any payment for this “stripped book.”
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is coincidental.
Copyright © 2001 by Lindsey Davis
All rights reserved.
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First eBook Edition: September 2002
Originally published in hardcover by Mysterious Press
Cover design by Rachel McClain
TO LINDSEY DAVIS GO THE LAURELS!
CRITICS PRAISE THE WINNER OF THE CWA ELLIS PETERS HISTORICAL DAGGER AWARD AND HER MYSTERIES SET IN ANCIENT ROME
“Roman history and culture are nice accessories for the more durable tool Davis employs—hilariously good writing.”
Washington Post Book World
“The action is fast and furious, and readers will divide their time between being mystified and laughing out loud.”
“One of the best historical series … wisecracking humor, scathing social commentary, and rollicking adventure.”
Detroit Free Press
“A BODY IN THE BATHHOUSE is an interesting and humorous historical mystery.”
“Lindsey Davis’s excellent and funny series [is] a cross between
Denver Rocky Mountain News
“Fascinating … just as fresh as the first [book in the series]. … Of course, any of the Falco books could be subtitled, ‘When in Rome, do in a Roman.’”
“If Travis McGee traveled in time back to treacherous, civilized Rome in
. 72, he might be something like Marcus Didius Falco.”
“As always, Falco amuses, instructs, and engages the reader. … You have a glorious treat ahead of you.”
“A clever whodunnit.”
Midwest Book Review
“A lot of fun, with nice touches of (usually black) humor. Falco has similarities to Robert Parker’s Spenser; if you like your PIs hard-boiled but soft-centered, try A BODY IN THE BATHHOUSE.”
“Great fun, an artful blend of suspense, superb characterization, and classical history. … If you like
, you’re going to love Marcus Didius Falco.
“I enjoyed Davis’s skill at mixing humor, history, and a first-class mystery in which she creates a rare kind of hard-boiled detective.”
“Davis is both a deft storyteller and a scholar. … [A] top-drawer series … smart, amusing … entertaining.”
“One of the best entries in a long-running series that has kept a consistently high standard. … If you enjoy historical mysteries or have ever dealt with contractors who don’t deliver, you’ll love this book!”
ALSO BY LINDSEY DAVIS
The Course of Honor
The Falco Series
Shadows in Bronze
Venus in Copper
The Iron Hand of Mars
Last Act in Palmyra
Time to Depart
A Dying Light in Corduba
Three Hands in the Fountain
Two for the Lions
One Virgin Too Many
Ode to a Banker
For Richard, again. This one could only be for you. With all my love.
The remains of the Roman Palace at Fishbourne, near Chichester on the south coast of Britain, were unearthed by a mechanical digger during the construction of a water main in 1960. It seemed hard to believe that a Roman building of such wealth and importance
be found here. Some of the palace lies under modern houses, but the excavation and preservation of what was accessible owes everything to local volunteers and benefactors. It is still a matter of speculation why such a magnificent building was created in this unlikely place.
If Fishbourne had a Roman name, we don’t know it. The palace of Togidubnus (as we now call him), Great King of the Britons, was constructed in various phases. In this novel, the Neroian “proto-palace” is called “the old house”; it is the grand Flavian expansion that Falco sees at building site stage. I have tried to use only what we know from excavation. Any mistakes are my responsibility and if future work reveals new treasures or leads to new interpretations, we shall just have to say: “They changed the design after Falco saw the plans.”
There were various Roman villas in a similar style along the coast; these were probably homes to local dignitaries, perhaps relatives of the King. That the one at Angmering was built by an architect is my own invention.
This is the first time I have based a story entirely on one archaeological site, and I am enormously grateful to everyone at Fishbourne, especially David Rudkin, the current curator, for welcoming the prospect so cheerfully. The palace belongs to Sussex Archaeological Society. It has a museum and other facilities and is a highly recommended site to visit.
|Marcus Didius Falco||an informer with a nose for trouble|
|Helena Justina||his partner, who can smell a rat|
|Julia and Favonia||two sweet and perfect babies|
|Camilla Hyspale||their sour and imperfect nurse|
|Nux||a dog,who just smells|
|Pa (Geminus/Favonius)||a rather ripe householder|
|Maia Favonia||a “vulnerable” (not very!) widow|
|Marius, Cloelia, Ancus, and Rhea||her nice (sneaky) children|
|L. Petronius Longus||a loyal friend, annoying Maia|
|Anacrites||a dangerous spy, following Maia|
|Perella||a devious dancer, following orders|
|Aulus Camillus Aelianus||a high-class apprentice|
|Quintus Camillus Justinus||a bridegroom on the razzle|
|Gloccus and Cotta||bathhouse contractors, in bad odor|
|Stephanus||a stinking corpse|
|Vespasian||an Emperor, footing the bill|
|T. Claudius Togidubnus||Great King of the Britons, a makeover fanatic|
|Verovolcus||a royal facilitator|
|Marcellinus||a retired designer (with a very nice house)|
|“Uncle Lobullus”||a contractor, never there|
|Virginia||a fragrant barmaid|
|On the New Palace Building Site|
|Valla, Dubnus, Eporix, and Gaudius||more dead men|
|Pomponius||the project manager (thinks he’s in charge)|
|Magnus||the surveyor (thinks he|
to be in charge)
|Cyprianus||the clerk of works (just gets on and runs it)|
|Plancus and Strephon||junior architects (clones of Pomponius)|
|Rectus||the farting drainage engineer|
|Milchato||the hard-edged marble mason|
|Philocles Senior||the short-tempered mosaicist|
|Philocles Junior||a clone of his father (misinformed?)|
|Blandus a seductive painter, with a bad history|
|The Smartarse from Stabiae||aiming for a good future|
|Timagenes||gardening in a harsh landscape|
|Alexas||a medico who mixes a mean draft|
|Gaius||a clerk who can count beans|
|Alla||a girl who doesn’t snivel|
|Sextius||a mechanical statue-seller, moving in on Maia|
|Mandumerus||the local labor supervisor (a few restrictive practices)|
|Lupus||the overseas labor supervisor (more dogy customs)|
|Tiberius and Septimus||the universal laborers|
Rome and Ostia Spring,
Rhea Favonia, we might have lived with it.
! There’s a horrible smell. I’m not going in
I didn’t need to be an informer to know we were stuck. When a four-year-old girl reckons she has detected something nasty, you just give in and look for it. My little niece would not go near the bathhouse until we proved there was nothing horrible in the caldarium. The more we scoffed and told her the hot room was only smelly because of its new plaster, the more Rhea screamed hysterically at bathtime. There was nothing visible, and the rest of us tried to ignore it. But the child’s insistence unsettled everyone.
a faint odor. If I tried sniffing it out, I lost it. When I decided there had been nothing, straightaway I smelled it again.
At least Helena and I were able to go home to our own new house. My sister Maia and her children had to stay on there on the Janiculan Hill, in the home that was supposed to be their refuge from trouble, living with that other kind of trouble, Pa. My father, Geminus, and I were in the throes of a houseswap. While I tried to organize decorators to renovate his faded old lair on the bank of the Tiber, he took over the spread on which I had already worked for months, where all that remained for completion was the new bathhouse.