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

4.06 of 5 stars 4.06  ·  rating details  ·  1,755 ratings  ·  56 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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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
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
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
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
Rosanne Lortz
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
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
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
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.
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 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.
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
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.
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.
Mar 12, 2008 Jessica rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Jessica by: I did
Shelves: falco, mysteries
Ms. Davis delights. Falco, his best friend Petronius and a whole crew of high and low assistants track a serial killer in Rome, circa 70 AD. This time we learn fascinating facts about the aqueducts and waterways . Okay, not fascinating, but interesting. Helena keeps her hand in, as profiler and bookkeeper, all while being a new mother to her and Falco's first offspring, Julia.
This time, Marcus Didius and Petro are up to their eyeballs in aqueducts -- and what a fascinating tale that ends up being. We also get another real historical figure in this one, which is another treat. Not to mention the usual wise-assery. Really enjoyable ... and some key information in this one will turn up again in a future volume, so it's really worth reading.
This time around it's time for a more traditional crime investigation - Falco and Petronius need to find a serial killer. May sound a bit 'vanila', but this is a predator hunt in a much different enviroment than your run of the mill 'CSI' episode. Add to the mix the wonderfull writing style of Lindsey Davis and you have an instant bestseller.
Jul 16, 2014 Jean rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jean by: David Sigsbee
Marcus Didius Falco solves another grisly murder, this one involving Rome's aqueduct system. These mysteries are set in Rome and environs during the time of Vespasian and are always an enjoyable listen.
This is a wonderful series and this is definitely one of my favorites in spite of it involving a serial killer. I'm not sure exactly why I liked this book so well. I think part of it is all the historical detail about the aqueducts, one of ancient Rome's notable engineering feats. I had a hard time putting it down.
I really like historical fiction/mystery for my summer reads. This is my first with this series and author.
At first, it seemed too fluffy and overburdened with cliches. But the lead character, Falco, grew on me as I read on. Not the most riveting mystery, but fun. I'll probably read more from the series eventually.
I like the authors background knowledge of Ancient Rome and the mystery was good albeit simple. I was somewhat bored by the tediousness of the everyday in this book, and I tended to get the characters mixed up. My fault, but the book didn't catch me enough to be enthused. I will however try others in the series.
Rachel Hawes
The one with the aqueduct obsessed serial killer.

This is also the one where the author, dedicated to her research descended into the Cloaca Maxima aqueduct in Rome which is still used as a storm drain. The Cloaca Maxima has since been decreed to dangerous to enter....

What writers do for their work eh?
Really enjoyed it. I read Falco as a comfort blanket as they are superbly written ,complex yet not disturbing. This story is ,as usual,deeply researched ( the Roman water system ) and involves Falco in investigating how body parts could possibly end up in the fountain near to - Fountain Court of course.
I think this is definitely the darkest Falco novel so far - they're tracking a serial killer, so. But it's still a good time.

Marcus and Helena have a wonderful relationship, and it really shines here, while Petro's marriage is on the rocks. I really like these books.
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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)
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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