Book info

Shadows In Bronze (1992)

Shadows in Bronze (1992)
Author
Rating
4.01 of 5 Votes: 2
ISBN
0345374266 (ISBN13: 9780345374264)
languge
English
publisher
fawcett books
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Shadows In Bronze (1992)
Shadows In Bronze (1992)

About book: Have you ever been to a movie that had one or two twists too many? Have you ever thought, “This chase scene was placed here either to extend the running length of the film or to provide something recognizable for the video game?” That’s the way I feel about Shadows in Bronze. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t intend to stop reading Lindsey Davis’ delightful stories about Marcus Didius Falco, “informer” for the Emperor Vespasian. Most of them that I’ve read have been delightfully paced while juggling together the very things I like about historical fiction, detective work, and humor with more than a little romantic dash thrown in to take it up a notch. Yet, Shadows in Bronze felt more like a trilogy of magazine novellas than a comprehensive whole.This adventure deals with a conspiracy against the emperor. I’ve been anticipating this type of adventure for a while and it started off perfectly for me. Falco has to attend to some unwelcome details of a conspiracy gone awry and yet, gains no appreciable recognition from the emperor. But, of course, the emperor still has work for Falco to do in cleaning up the last details of the conspiracy and that work involves finding those conspirators who have scattered to various places in Italy. Sometimes, resolution seems almost too easy, but at other times Falco is looped into lasso after lasso of interlocking conspiracies.The human element is delightful. In so many mystery novels (and movies), the supporting characters have an unnatural trust of the protagonist, no matter how hard-bitten, cranky, or seedy the detective may be. In this one, even spouses and would-be mothers-in-law are suspicious of Falco. Even Falco’s nephew and friends call his motives into question on occasion, much less those who are being interrogated or investigated by Vespasian’s informer. And, of course, some of the best humor in the book is when Falco, as narrator, tells the reader how much the person being interrogated doesn’t like Falco.Falco is not as resourceful, in my opinion, as the average detective protagonist. The Falco mysteries are “ensemble productions,” meaning that our hero wouldn’t be nearly as successful as he is without his supporting cast. That the remarkably fortuitous interventions of four-legged allies in this adventure are somewhat incredible yet don’t jerk one out of one’s willing disbelief is a testimony to how accustomed we readers have become to having Falco’s friends and acquaintances bail him out of difficult situation after difficult situation.It would not be a spoiler to say that there are some unnecessary deaths in this novel. As in real life, evil has a tendency to overplay its hand. So, there is death at the hand of an unwitting do-gooder and there are deaths of mistaken identity to add to those of deaths from those who had already resolved their situation without putting the murderer at risk. But murder creates paranoia and that is true in this story as well.My problem with Shadows in Bronze is not the conclusion. It is apt and it is just, in spite of much of it being out of the hero’s hands. My problem is not the final resolution. That was as predictable as the “conflict,” the rationale for the “conflict,” and the well-telegraphed solution to the “conflict.” Still, it was what I wanted and what I’m sure many readers want for Falco. My problem was simply the existence of too many convenient escapes by suspect or suspects. I had the feeling of being in an episode of The Rockford Files inexplicably set in Ancient Rome and extended to the length of a “Made for TV” movie instead of the nice little episode that it was.

In Shadows In Bronze, by Lindsey Davis, private detective Didius Falco is given the task of completing the round-up of conspirators who plotted to kill and replace Roman Emperor Vespasian; he finds himself hunting down several Senators, and being hunted himself in turn. His job takes him to the Bay of Naples, and the marvelous sea-side towns located there; to provide himself with a cover, he travels with his friend Petronius Longus and his young family, along with Falco's adolescent nephew, and he is happy to discover that Helena Justina, the daughter of a Senator and the love of Falco's life, has also traveled to this holiday resort area. But the people he is hunting are not easy to capture, and those hunting him are not easy to shake off, and before too long Falco is fighting for his life.... This is the second Falco novel, and it's a direct sequel to the first book of the series, The Silver Pigs, although you don't need to have read that book to understand this one. We get to know Falco better and to meet more members of his family, and the romance between Falco and Helena proceeds apace, but really the best part of the book is the setting - the various seaside towns by the Bay, and the doomed city of Pompeii (depicted here 8 years before its fate) are quite vividly rendered and tend to make the reader want to hop the next plane to Italy to see them for oneself. However, I'm not as enamoured of this series as I'd hoped I would be; I find Falco a bit annoying, frankly, and I've never been fond of slow-burning romances that take forever to be sorted out. Nice for the travelogue aspect, and interesting for the historical setting of the Roman Empire, but I felt that I rather plodded through it rather than being carried along with the story.
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Reviews
James
I came to Falco by listening to a serialisation on BBC 4Extra. I can't remember exactly which story it was (not this or the first book, that much I can work out), so kind of feel I am coming to this fresh.Lindsay Davis is a lovely writer, working through the plot by revealing then misleading the reader. The mystery here is not typical as in the reader is not guessing whodunit more howdoesit, and the reader would definitely benefit from reading The Silver Pigs first.What drew me to Falco in the first place, the every day relationships jostling alongside significant conspiracies, are here in the brass bucket load (that is a bona fida spoiler though you'd need to read the book before you can acknowledge it as a spoiler). The other attractive aspect is treating the Roman Empire as it was, include all its political and societal absurdities, manoeuvrings, dirt, squalor and glory.A good read.
kellyn
This audiobook is a BBC full cast recording - I don't know why they switched to this format! It's difficult to hear all the dialogue sometimes because of background noises (marketplace, animals, etc.) and the book takes on a different tone because its no longer being narrated in Didius Falco's voice. This book picks up a few days after the end of the last book, with Falco trying to wrap up the loose ends of the Silver Pigs case. We get to know some of the characters from the previous book a bit better, including Vespasian, Helena, and Petro. I appreciate these books for their complex plots and surprising twists, Falco's sense of humor and irony, and the straightforward resolutions; the good guys come out on top and the bad guys get it in the end...for the most part.
Rob
Shadows in Bronze is a direct continuation of the first book in this series, Silver Pigs. I read them close to a year a part and that is probably a mistake. So much of book 1 is carried into book 2. Unfortunately, I liked Silver Pigs much better. I bought ahead several books later in the series... so crossing my fingers they get better.This one was a bit slow at times and evolved into too much romance between our hero Falco and a certain Senator's daughter. But I do love Falco. Great character with a cunning mind and sarcastic personality. Davis interjects historical fact and great Roman era descriptions throughout. Still a solid read for any Roman Empire fan. I am anxious to see which direction book 3 takes.
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