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Three Hands in the Fountain (Marcus Didius Falco #9)

4.09  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,147 Ratings  ·  68 Reviews
When a woman's hand bobs up in a Roman fountain, investigator Marcus Didius Falco and his new partner, Petronius Longus, hope to make a splash for their new detective agency by solving the mystery. However, Roman officials order them to stay out of the way. Soon more female body parts are floating down the aqueducts, and Falco is dangerously defying his old boss, Chief Spy ...more
Published January 1st 2000 by Warner Books (first published 1996)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Rosanne Lortz
May 23, 2011 Rosanne Lortz rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In Three Hands in the Fountain, Marcus returns to Rome to find out that his longtime friend Petronius Longus has been thrown out of his home–his affair with Balbina Milvia (daughter of the mob boss our boys tracked down in Time to Depart) has become public knowledge and Arria Silvia can endure the humiliation no longer. As painful as this domestic situation is, there are even more horrific doings afoot in the capital of the world. Human body parts–hands, feet, heads–have been showing up in the w ...more
Jamie Collins
Another entertaining Marcus Didius Falco mystery, even though I don't much like reading about serial killers. I prefer to be entertained by murder for profit, revenge, etc., rather than random perverted craziness.

This entry in the saga has Falco exploring the Roman aqueducts, which was very interesting. It was a nice touch to include Sextus Julius Frontinus in the adventure - a distinguished Roman statesman who will go on to write a celebrated book about the aqueducts.
Cynthianna /Celine Chatillon
Falco and his good friend Petro find a decaying hand in the local fountain and stumble into solving a good ol' fashioned mystery. Three Hands in the Fountain is a return to what I like best in the Falco series--street characters and action set in the city of Rome with a misogynistic serial killer on the loose who has to be found before he kills again. Falco discovering bits of women's bodies in the aqueducts and trying to work out the psyche of the killer gives the story a rather modern flair. A ...more
I'm so pleased to find a new series that promises to be a lot of fun to read! I didn't realize that I started with #9 so I will go back and read from the beginning. These mysteries are set in ancient Rome during the reign of Vespasian and the details are supposed to be historically accurate. The language, however, is mostly modern with the occasional "By Jupiter!" thrown in. I thought the character list at the front of the book to be a funny and out-dated addition but I found myself referring to ...more
Apr 15, 2016 Lois rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Falco, the hard boiled informer (detective) is drawn into the hunt for a killer who is preying on women at the games when a severed hand is found in a fountain. Falco seeks out the expertise of those who maintain the aqueducts to try to determine where the body parts were put into the water system. In the pursuit, we learn more about the culture of Ancient Rome as Falco and Helene welcome their daughter into the mixed world of Patrician and Publican. Great fun with his cynical approach to life.
M.G. Mason
Falco has just returned from Spain with Helena Justina and new baby in tow. During his welcome home party, Falco and his friend Petronius Longus sneak out for a drink beside a water fountain which typically isn’t working. When a city worker comes along to repair it it turns out that the source of the blockage was a human hand. After making a few enquiries it turns out that this has been a fairly regular occurrence, usually a hand or two turn up after a public festival. Anacrites is also back to ...more
I really enjoyed the Marcu Didius Falco novel. Lindsey Davis obviously has a vast knowledge of ancient Rome with her descriptions of all the water systems and their layout. She paints such a vivid picture of the different Circus venues and the streets that lead off them that you have a mental image of where you are at any particular time. I particularly like the detail given to the minutiae of the general lives of the ordinary people, this tells us more about life in the first century AD than mu ...more
Sep 12, 2012 Ruth rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-historical
C1996: FWFTB: fountain, aqueducts, body-parts, sightseers, consul.
Having read the first 8 – had to carry on. I am not sure whether or not it is because I read this after a number of really awful Kindle freebies, but this outing seemed to me to be much better than the last one. Well, I learnt more than I wanted to about the Roman water management systems but the vivid storytelling really makes you forget this. The characters of Falco and Julia are now well fleshed out so some of the scenes just j
Somehow, I have been drawn to this series of mysteries from the moment I first discovered Marcus Didio Falco. Set in Imperial Rome during the reign of the Emperor Vespasian, Falco is an “informer,” a freelance investigator/spy, who often serves the emperor himself. Yet, the key, almost like a superhero’s secret identity, is that Falco is a specialist in sensitive investigations. So, like the tough private eyes in the works of Chandler and Hammett who sometimes have to avoid both the police and t ...more
Simon Mcleish
Mar 20, 2012 Simon Mcleish rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
Originally published on my blog here in October 1998.

Three Hands in the Fountain is a slightly disappointing addition to the generally excellent series of Falco novels by Davis. Returning to Rome following an investigation in Spain and the birth there of his daughter (A Dying Light in Corduba), Falco soon becomes involved in one of the most gruesome mysteries of his career when decomposing severed limbs begin to be found in Rome's drinking water supplies.

The mystery is to the same standard as in
Feb 21, 2010 Scot rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ninth in the Falco series. This book was a bit harder to locate, and a less compelling read (for me, anyway) than many others in the series. Body parts start showing up in the water supply in Rome, and it becomes evident that a serial killer is dismembering young women during festivals and grisly, decaying pieces of them are being discovered where others go to drink, bathe, or clean.

Engineers might find the aqueduct discussions here interesting, as Falco needs to understand how the water supply
Simon Binning
I am a real fan of this series, but this episode didn't really work for me. As always, there are one or two over-arcing storylines about the lives of the main characters, and these continue to keep your interest. But the actual main plot of this one was a bit weak. The discovery of body-parts in the city's water courses leads to an investigation into a possible long-time serial killer. The problems of the main protagonists seem to overshadow this story for too much of the book, and the occasiona ...more
Aug 24, 2010 Deb rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010-books-read
When Falco and Helena return to Rome with their brand-new daughter Julia Junius they discover that Petro has been suspended from his job, and thrown out of his house by his wife. Anacrites is recuperating at Falco's mother's home. Severed hands begin to show up in Rome's public fountains. Falco and Petro go into partnership as detectives, and with the help of an ex-consul Justinius Frontinus, they set out to find the villain responsible for the kidnapping, murder, and disembodiment of fair young ...more
May 10, 2014 Pat rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Always enjoy these out-of-gear stories. Very engaging, well crafted plots, with just enough detail to give the atmosphere of the period. Only recently discovered this writer, so I am happily working my way through the series in between other reads.
Mar 21, 2014 Susan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It would seem that the Rome water supply holds many body parts. This would be Falco, and Petro's, formerly of the Vigiles, first case. The duo begin to suspect a serial killer has been operating for many years. Killings linked to the public festivals, of which one is upcoming.
I enjoyed getting reacquainted with Marcus Didius Falco. He is a good hearted scalawag. Near the end I was having heart palpitations, frightened for Falco and a kidnapped woman. I love Falco's relationship with his wife and daughter and with others for whom he feels responsible. At heart he is a very good man.
Jun 03, 2014 Yan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: detective
I think I might need to take a break from this series for a while. Women being gruesomely murdered by a serial killer is never appealing to read about, no matter what era a book is set in, and Falco's misogynistic side seemed to come to the fore in this one.
Apr 29, 2012 Meladhu rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's one of the more gruesomer Falco books and quite sad. I got really caught up in the victim's life. A serial killer in ancient Rome. Quite a few people don't like it for that reason but it reminds me that all was not intrigue and politics with entanglements by the rich and powerful, things were just like now, serial killers have killed throughout history affecting the lives of poor and middle class people.
I do find the descriptions of the aqueducts very interesting as the engineering of aqued
Steve Clark
Interesting stuff about the aqueducts that fed ancient Rome. I like this series when the mysteries are set in and around Rome.
The nice thing bout this series, and some others, is that by this point, it's comfortable. Like being with good friends or family. I look forward to reading them and they don't disappoint.
Pam Bales
Jan 22, 2016 Pam Bales rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: police
Number nine in the Marcus Didium Falco "police procedural" historical fiction set in ancient Rome, this is a great story.
Nov 20, 2015 Mantelli rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of my favorite Falcos, about the first(?) serial killer, mingling humor and tension in a masterful blend.
Nov 13, 2015 Helen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Complex mystery.
Janet Keeten
Feb 09, 2014 Janet Keeten rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great, as usual.
May 04, 2008 Rose added it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2008
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This is Davis' try at a serial killer plot in 70 AD Rome. The plot is predictable but everything that surrounds the action such as it is is wonderful. The depth of research and how Davis was able to show how the water was transported in Rome, how the police forces worked is wonderful.
This one also sets up a new arc in the series as who works with Marcus Didius.

Entertaining, light but not in a bad way.
Falco and company solve a gruesome set of murders in Rome with the book revolving mainly around Petro and Falco. Helena and her clan have the majority of side plots wrapped up. I missed the rest and wasn't a big fan of the way Petro is heading in this book.

The murder itself made sense in the resolution with one big exception. Looking forward to the next book, but this was not my favorite.
Kathy Dolan
Mar 22, 2016 Kathy Dolan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio-book, crime
Falco books always make me smile.
Eileen Iciek
Jan 15, 2016 Eileen Iciek rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another fun Marcus Didius Falco mystery. Always enjoyable.
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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)
  • Last Act in Palmyra (Marcus Didius Falco, #6)
  • Time to Depart (Marcus Didius Falco, #7)
  • A Dying Light in Corduba (Marcus Didius Falco, #8)
  • Two for the Lions (Marcus Didius Falco, #10)
  • One Virgin Too Many (Marcus Didius Falco, #11)

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