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Last Act in Palmyra (Marcus Didius Falco #6)

4.01 of 5 stars 4.01  ·  rating details  ·  2,049 ratings  ·  80 reviews
The spirit of adventure callls Marcus Didius Falco on a new spying mission for the Emperor Vespasian to the untamed East. He's picking up extra fees from his old friend Thalia the snake dancer as he searches for Sophrona, her lost water organist. With the Chief Spy Anacrites paying his fare, Falco knows anything can go wrong.

A dangerous brush with the Brother, the sinister
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published 1994 by Century (Random House)
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(showing 1-30 of 2,819)
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Matthew Gatheringwater
I keep waiting for the next book in the series to be a dud, but they just seem to get better and better. I'm enchanted by the romance between Falco and Helana--like Nick and Nora Charles in Imperial Rome--I like the carelessly anachronistic attitude toward speech and detail, and the author's continual allusions to British history and literature is a charming running joke. I suspect part of the reason I enjoy reading these stories is because the author enjoys writing them. They come across as lig ...more
I really looked forward to this one because I have seen pictures of Petra a number of times and heard people talk about visiting there so I was interested to see what MS Davis would do with the place when it was functioning. I don't know why I didn't worry too much about the murder, unless it was that seeing the different towns was so fascinating that it took precedence over the mystery, although I certainly cared about the musician. All of this series is lively and fun with literary references ...more
Set in A.D. 72, Falco and Helena travel the length of the Decaopolis with a band of actors. They're trying to find a murderer, of course, as well as track down a missing girl. The author has fun framing the book's sections as if they were acts in a play.

I missed Rome as a setting, but this was very entertaining. I am consistently amused by the writing, and I'm enjoying Falco and Helen's slowly advancing romance. Looking forward to the next book in the series.
My favorite in the series, probably, if for no other reason than the shameless thievery from Shakespeare. ("The Spook Who Spoke" - destined for greatness.)
Falco has been asked by Thalia to try and find one of her employees who has disappeared. Fortunately he can combine the search with a commission from the Emperor Vespasian so he decides to combine business with pleasure and take Helena with him. After finding a dead body at the top of a hill at a shrine, Falco and Helena have to move on hurriedly and a priest, Musa, goes with them. They join forces with a travelling theatre group and Falco acquires the job of tracking down the murderer who was o ...more
C1994. FWFTB: spying, Nabataean, Petra, theatre, killer. I am working my way through the Falco novels and this is number 6. I loved it. I think I have said before that you do not read these books for the murder/crime part but for the story of the characters which just gets better and better.This was probably the easiest murder to solve with the least likely reason for Falco to get involved but this is really a minor issue (ha ha). The gentle humour is really well done.“He looked like a friendly ...more
Oct 29, 2012 Terence rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Historical fiction & mystery fans
The situation in Rome becoming uncomfortable, Falco finds it expedient to take an assignment (two, in fact, one from the Emperor and another from Thalia, the statuesque snake-dancer from The Silver Pigs) that takes him and Helena Justina to the Empire's eastern frontier.

Last Act in Palmyra read a bit more grimly than the previous few novels, going back to the atmosphere of the first book, but I still enjoyed it and continue to recommend the series.
Well, it was only to be expected – Lindsey Davis’ steady cruise from a high point to a high point has finally been interrupted. ‘Last Act In Palmyra’ is a slow-paced, somewhat dull detective story that dragged on and on. Davis’ characteristic witty writing style is still there, but somehow subdued, without any really memorable moments. The saving grace of this book is colorful characterization of supporting characters. I really hope that Lindsey Davis returns to her previous form in next book of ...more
This is the first Lindsay Davis novel which has disappointed me. My indifference to Last Act in Palmyra may be more my problem than the author’s. Ironically, it is the very nature of the “realism” in the book that seems to have removed my “suspension of disbelief” for the story. I realize it is somewhat oxymoronic when I say that the realism of Falco’s investigative procedure is what undermined my immersion into this first century setting, but the plodding itinerary of the investigation with ver ...more
You cannot read these historical fiction books about informer (private eye) Marcus Didius Falco without a smile on your face. They are humorous with witty dialogue and clever repartee between Falco and his girlfriend Helena, a senator's daughter with a soft spot for Falco who is below her in rank - true lovers.

Anacrites, the official Chief Spy for Emperor Vespasian, has asked Falco to travel to Nabataea to scout out the political climate and find out what land might possibly be annexed to Roman
I'm not exactly sure what it was that made this book so hard to read for me. While the premise sounded promising - Falco and Helena are on a roadtrip with a theatre group, trying to find a missing girl while trying to solve the usual murder mystery - the execution was rather ... tiresome.

Endless descriptions of yet another city (even though they all felt the same to me), interrogations of actors from the group (who all seemed petty and unlikeable) that never led to any results, Falco stabbing i
This story takes place on a long journey east of Rome. 3/4 through the book you feel like you've been on a long journey. Resolution is satisfactory.
"The play's the thing" indeed. The entire last act more than made up for the tedious traveling across the Decapolis. Not that I minded too much over the traveling, it was definitely more entertaining with an acting troupe roaming the countryside. Plus, the scenery was refreshing and completely away from Rome (or Italy for that matter). And Falco a playwright!

As usual, I loved these books mostly because of the charming point of view that the narrator has. The fact that Falco also has a stalwart g
M.G. Mason
In this, the sixth book in the “Falco” series, our hero is sent east to spy for Emperor Vespasian. So much for cutting ties to the imperial house. While there he chooses to investigate the disappearance of a young musician by the name of Sophrona. After meeting up with a troupe of actors, Falco is roped into becoming their playwright for the duration of his stay.

I felt that this is the weakest in the series since Shadows in Bronze. Though her usual high-quality writing is maintained, and it is i
The primary murder mystery dragged interminably, and the way ALL the threads tied together at the far end of the Roman world in the Last Act was more outlandish than usual for a Falco mystery. Structuring it like a play, and the inference from Falco that this is all being written many years after the fact (references to Trajan), gives the sense that the narrator is well aware of the absurdities at play, and torments us throughout.

The narration is also a reminder that it's more about the journey
Love the series, but not this installment. The book has less sparkle on the whole, though the writing is so assured, with lines like: Above us soared a sky that a bad lyric poet would certainly have called cerulean. But we get dragged around too many desert towns trying to solve the whodunit murder-mystery involving a traveling theatrical troupe. Falco feels the same way: I had had enough. I was sick of stones in my shoes and the raw smell of camel's breath. I wanted glorious monuments and tower ...more
Simon Mcleish
Originally published on my blog here in July 1998.

The sixth in Davis' Falco series about a first century private detective. Falco combines several investigations into one trip. Firstly, he's asked by the imperial household (the customer who expects to pay no fees) to take a look at the state of Nabatea, independent but only just over the edge of the empire. An old friend, the snake-dancer Thalia (now circus entrepeneur), asks him to look for a missing protege of hers, the water-organ player Soph
Cynthianna /Celine Chatillon
It's been a few years since I read a Falco mystery by Lindsey Davis so when I finally got a hold of Last Act in Palmyra, I was happy to delve into the world of ancient Rome once again. Falco is the same sleuth as he ever was--resourceful, trustworthy, worldly, cynical, and madly in love with a senator's daughter, Helena Justina. The setting in the cities of the Decapolis is interesting, and the details of everyday life in the first century Roman world are fascinating, as Davis is terrific with b ...more
Dec 09, 2012 Christy rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Falco fans
Oh goodness, I've completely neglected my Falco reviews. Shame on me! This is the thing about the Falco series, you see: once you've gotten into them you suddenly find yourself unable to stop. If Roman historical fiction and mystery novels are your thing, then well, this is for you! However, this book would certainly make a poor introduction to the series. It suffers from bridging novel syndrome, in which the events of this novel really only serve to move along the greater movements of the prota ...more
Appearing in his sixth adventure. Falco was denied a promised promotion into the upper class by the emperor Vespasian after his last escapade (in Poseidon's Gold), a promotion required for him to marry his patrician Helena Justina. To get out of town with Helena, he takes on a job for one of the emperor's less trustworthy underlings, heading for Syria to do a little snooping; at the same time he's also on the lookout for a runaway girl who may have been kidnapped by a Syrian. While sightseeing, ...more
Rosanne Lortz
In Last Act in Palmyra, Marcus undertakes an Imperial assignment to the wilds of Syria with orders to reports back on the political climate there. While touring the desert towns with Helena, Marcus discovers the murdered body of a member of an acting troupe. Determined to bring the killer to justice, Marcus takes the dead man’s job of adapting and updating old Greek plays for modern day (A.D. 72) performances), and takes the opportunity of sizing up all the actors’ motives for murder along the w ...more
Rachel Stimson
So far this is my least favourite of the Falco series. It lacks the pace and excitement of the other books. in this we are dragged through the deserts of Syria, Palestine and Jordan to very little purpose other than to get Falco and Helena out of Rome for a bit. I finished it in the vague hope that it might improve once they reached the next of the ten towns, unfortunately my faith was misplaced.
This is another adventure of Marcus Didius Falco, a somewhat disreputable first century Roman private eye. Accompanied by his smart, high-class girl friend, Helena, he travels with a dysfunctional theatrical troupe through the middle east (Nabatea, Syria, etc.), while solving a couple murders. This story, like the other mysteries, works fine as a mystery, but are particularly amusing in showing the relationship between Marcus and Helena, and also with the other curious and outrageous characters ...more
In the pantheon of "functional fictional relationships," I imagine Marcus and Helena rank pretty high.

Anyway, like an episode of a consistently good TV show - Parks and Recreation? - judging any installment of the series happens on a curve. Is Last Act in Palmyra not quite as good as some other Falco books? Yes. Is it still enjoyable and entertaining and clever and generally fun and well-written? Yes. I thought this one was a little too long and disorganized (although I like that the official re
Partway through the book I was finding it a little tiresome because there is (and has been in previous books) so much dwelling on Falco's love for Helena, the fact that she's a senator's daughter and that she's so far above him. But then I got involved in the story and it became quite enjoyable. In this installment Falco is given the mission of traveling the eastern part of the Roman Empire and then picks up another commission from a snake dancer named Thalia to track down a young woman whom Tha ...more
This one, the sixth in the series, ran on a bit long for me. The many different towns of the Decapolis all started to blur together, and the murder mystery itself was not as compelling as one might exspect. Marcus and Helena are wandering through Nabataea and Syria in a theatrical troupe, with some intriguing and exotic secondary characters to keep things spiced up. I was pleased to recognize some theatrical allusions before the author revealed them, and prior to starting I certainly knew little ...more
Meg Morden
I had not read this one of Davis`s works and i really enjoyed it. It moves along well and has the added fun since I have been to Petra, scene of the first murder!
In general, the Dideius Falco series is not a standard whodunit. Like all historical fiction, there is a lot of emphasis on the historical setting and less on the plot. This particular one is more a mystery than most of the series but it is still a historical travelogue first and a mystery second.
I think there is a bit too much farce thrown in, probably in an effort to keep a fairly uninteresting story moving along. The lesson here is that background cannot overcome a mundane plot; It can flesh
I generally like this series, but was disappointed by this installment. Falco and Helena head off to Syria on a spurious Imperial mission, only to stumble across a murder. Their supposed mission is soon forgotten as they join a group of travelling players - ostensibly in an attempt to solve the murder, but it's actually an excuse for the author to give us a rather boring travelogue. Ms Davis, your research is showing! I found the 'resolution' of the murder rather disappointing, pulled out of thi ...more
Another good read from LIndsey Davis,looking forward to the next book in the Falco series. Well when I've read, Marius' Mules VI: Caesar's Vow: 6.
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Lindsey Davis, historical novelist, was born in Birmingham, England in 1949. Having taken a degree in English literature at Oxford University (Lady Margaret Hall), she became a civil servant. She left the civil service after 13 years, and when a romantic novel she had written was runner up for the 1985 Georgette Heyer Historical Novel Prize, she decided to become a writer, writing at first romanti ...more
More about Lindsey Davis...

Other Books in the Series

Marcus Didius Falco (1 - 10 of 20 books)
  • The Silver Pigs (Marcus Didius Falco, #1)
  • Shadows in Bronze (Marcus Didius Falco, #2)
  • Venus in Copper (Marcus Didius Falco, #3)
  • The Iron Hand of Mars (Marcus Didius Falco, #4)
  • Poseidon's Gold (Marcus Didius Falco, #5)
  • Time to Depart (Marcus Didius Falco, #7)
  • A Dying Light in Corduba (Marcus Didius Falco, #8)
  • Three Hands in the Fountain (Marcus Didius Falco, #9)
  • Two for the Lions (Marcus Didius Falco, #10)
  • One Virgin Too Many (Marcus Didius Falco, #11)
The Silver Pigs (Marcus Didius Falco, #1) Shadows in Bronze (Marcus Didius Falco, #2) The Iron Hand of Mars (Marcus Didius Falco, #4) Venus in Copper (Marcus Didius Falco, #3) Poseidon's Gold (Marcus Didius Falco, #5)

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