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Authors: Lindsey Davis

A Body in the Bathhouse

BOOK: A Body in the Bathhouse
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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.

This Grand Central Publishing edition is published by arrangement with Century, The Random House Group Limited, 20 Vauxhall Bridge Road, London, SW1V 2SA.

Grand Central Publishing

Hachette Book Group

237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017

Visit our Web site at
www.HachetteBookGroup.com

The Grand Central Publishing name and logo are registered trademarks of Hachette Book Group, Inc.

First eBook Edition: September 2002

Originally published in hardcover by Mysterious Press

ISBN: 978-0-446-55647-7

Cover design by Rachel McClain

Contents

ARCHAEOLOGICAL NOTE

Principal Characters

Rome and Ostia Spring, A.D. 75

I

II

III

IV

V

VI

VII

VIII

IX

Britain: Noviomagus Regnensis

X

XI

XII

XIII

XIV

XV

XVI

XVII

XVIII

XIX

XX

XXI

XXII

XXIII

XXIV

XXV

XXVI

XXVII

XXVIII

XXIX

XXX

XXXI

XXXII

XXXIII

XXXIV

XXXV

XXXVI

XXXVII

XXXVIII

XXXIX

XL

XLI

XLII

XLIII

XLIV

XLV

XLVI

XLVII

XLVIII

XLIX

L

LI

LII

LIII

LIV

LV

LVI

LVII

LVIII

LIX

LX

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.”


Romantic Times

“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.”


www.Suite101.com

“Lindsey Davis’s excellent and funny series [is] a cross between
I, Claudius
and
Mystery!


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.’”


www.ReviewingtheEvidence.com

“If Travis McGee traveled in time back to treacherous, civilized Rome in
A.D
. 72, he might be something like Marcus Didius Falco.”


Publishers Weekly

“As always, Falco amuses, instructs, and engages the reader. … You have a glorious treat ahead of you.”


Mystery News

“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.”


www.NewMysteryReader.com

“Great fun, an artful blend of suspense, superb characterization, and classical history. … If you like
I, Claudius
, you’re going to love Marcus Didius Falco.
Ipso facto
.”


Raleigh News-Observer

“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.”


www.mostlyfiction.com

“Davis is both a deft storyteller and a scholar. … [A] top-drawer series … smart, amusing … entertaining.”


Newsday

“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!”


www.Bookloons.com

“Rome lives.”


Daily Telegraph
(London)

ALSO BY LINDSEY DAVIS

The Course of Honor

The Falco Series

Silver Pigs

Shadows in Bronze

Venus in Copper

The Iron Hand of Mars

Poseidon’s Gold

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.

ARCHAEOLOGICAL NOTE

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
could
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.

PRINCIPAL CHARACTERS

In Rome
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
In Britain
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
ought
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
Iggidunus
a sniffy
mulsum
boy
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,
A.D
. 75

I

B
UT FOR
Rhea Favonia, we might have lived with it.

“There’s a
smell
! There’s a horrible smell. I’m not going in
there
!”

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.

There
was
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.

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