Venus in Copper (Marcus Didius Falco, #3)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

Venus in Copper (Marcus Didius Falco #3)

4.02 of 5 stars 4.02  ·  rating details  ·  2,296 ratings  ·  77 reviews
Marcus Didius Falco, Imperial Rome's answer to Columbo, is hired by relatives of a wealthy real estate developer, Hortensius, to find his murderer. What Falco uncovers is a hotbed of crime in the unscrupulous business dealings of Hortensius. The third book in the series of amusing, romantic detective thrillers set in ancient Rome.
Mass Market Paperback, 275 pages
Published January 23rd 1993 by Fawcett (first published 1991)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
I, Claudius by Robert GravesThe First Man in Rome by Colleen McCulloughClaudius the God and His Wife Messalina by Robert GravesThe Twelve Caesars by SuetoniusThe Grass Crown by Colleen McCullough
Best Books About Ancient Rome
30th out of 391 books — 627 voters
The Name of the Rose by Umberto EcoThe Alienist by Caleb CarrThe Historian by Elizabeth KostovaThe Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz ZafónMistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin
Best Historical Mystery
115th out of 953 books — 2,294 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Ben Babcock
I swear I’ve read some of these before, but they’re the type of books that are made of the same mould. Marcus Didius Falco is a “private informer” in the first-century Roman empire. Recently back from a stint in Britain on the emperor’s business, Falco finds himself in jail for crossing the emperor’s chief spy. Thanks to his mother and his girlfriend, he gets his freedom—and a new apartment—and immediately sets about acquiring a new case. He has to shadow and investigate a gold-digger, Severina...more
Matthew Gatheringwater
I like these mysteries so much that I've started to ration them for prescriptive reading. (Prescriptive reading? Books read with the intention of changing one's mood, attitude, or perspective, selected on the basis of their being considered likely to induce a desired change. I have all sorts of prescriptive books for all sorts of ailments: books to read when I have a cold, books for depression, for anger, for heart-sickness and inappropriate detachment. And then there are books for seasons, situ...more
Ryan Patrick
At first I was prepared and even expecting not to be very impressed with this book (sequel to a sequel, a more 'traditional' case/mystery for the PI, etc.), but man that Falco is a really engaging fellow (This is first person done right, IMHO - another good first person narrative I'd recommend is the Bartimaeus Trilogy The Bartimaeus Trilogy Boxed Set(it has footnotes too (along the lines of Terry Pratchett)). Plus, I enjoyed the layers of mystery (the case within a case, sort of), the way the c...more
Melissa Proffitt
I think this volume of the Marcus Didius Falco mysteries was where I really got hooked by the series. It's hard for me to classify: is it a mystery with an historical setting, or historical fiction with a mystery-based plot? Venus in Copper is a good mystery story about a "black widow" who may have killed three husbands and gotten away with it, and is now engaged to marry a fourth...or is she trying to protect him from someone else who wants him dead? There are a lot of suspects, a lot of motive...more
Simon Mcleish
Originally published on my blog here in May 2001.

Re-reading this early Falco novel, I'm a bit surprised by how frivolous it is. I had the impression that they were becoming less serious as time progressed, but in fact the tone of this one is remarkably similar to that of the later novels.

Falco is employed by the business partners of parvenu Hortensius Novus to gather evidence against his fiancée, who has a history of marrying rich men who die soon after the ceremony, and ot help them buy her off...more
Marcus Didius Falco sitzt mal wieder in der Klemme oder vielmehr im Knast. Als ihn seine liebende Mutter freikauft, schwankt er zwischen Peinlichkeit und Freude. Kaum heimgekehrt in seine Bruchbude auf dem Aventin, erreicht ihn sein neuester Auftrag: ein reich gewordener Ex-Sklave namens Hortensius ist im Begriff, eine Frau zu heiraten, deren vorherige Ehemänner - drei an der Zahl - allesamt auf mysteriöse Art und verdächtig schnell ums Leben gekommen sind. Falcos Aufgabe soll es nun sein, zu ve...more
Severina Zotica is about to marry Hortensius Novus. The problem is she has had three previous husbands who died shortly after marrying her. The women of the Hortensius household hire Marcus Didius Falco, a private informer (investigator in ancient Rome), to investigate Zotica and either pay her off not to marry Novus or frighten her off. Another problem arises when Novus is murdered before the wedding. Falco has just been released from prison after his mother paid a bribe to the jailors, but the...more
Fun little mystery. I like her writing very much. I normally don't care for anachronisms in my historical fiction, but Davis is so subtle that it's completely inoffensive. Like an offhand comment from Falco about the unsuitability of a Gallic slave for work as a chef.
Rachel Hawes
The one with the professional bride, the dodgy landlord and the copper ring
M.G. Mason
The third in the “Falco” series and the one that hooked me to this series.

Falco has decided to remove himself from the employment of the Imperial household and return to being an independent investigator despite realising that he will now never earn enough money to work his way up to Equestrain rank (and legally be able to marry Helena Justina). He soon finds himself with a commission investigating a family of freed slaves. The group is concerned that one of their number will be murdered by his...more
I am so glad I continued with this series. Marcus Didius Falco is hired to buy off, or scare off, a woman who has become engaged to a close relative of his new clients. She has been married three times, and widowed three times, and Falco's clients suspect that in each case she's helped things along. Lindsey Davis is a talented story-teller, and the stories she tells are funny and poignant with some of the wittiest dialogue I've read. The scene with the turbot is a comic masterpiece, especially w...more
Rosanne Lortz
In Venus in Copper, Marcus branches out on his own as a private investigator, taking a hiatus from his palace work for Vespasian. He is hired by two wealthy Roman matrons, former slaves who, along with their husbands, are now extremely wealthy property owners. The ladies are concerned for the safety of their husbands’ colleague, Novus, who is about to enter into marriage with Severina Zotica, a professional bride. Severina has had three husbands before, all of whom died suspiciously leaving her...more
Shirley Schwartz
I enjoyed this third book in the Falco series. It was as entertaining as the first one - The Silver Pigs. I think Ms. Davis gives her readers a rare view of ancient Rome, and Falco is a treat! The books are funny and there is a good mystery in them. In this one Falco has no shortage of suspects, and he gets in his usual scrapes trying to suss them out. Helena plays more of a role in this book too, and I think she's going to be a real asset to Falco to help solve his crimes. She can get into plac...more
c1991. Poor Old Falco...things just don't go his way sometimes. This book had a really comedic scene of Falco et al cooking a turbot - a present from Titus Caesar - who also decides to pitch up for a taste. Really well written. Great story but the character development, historical anecdotes and the humour really carries the day. Highly recommended. The Sunday Times review succinctly remarked "Another redolent dip into corruption in Vespasian's Rome..original and delightful." Agree 100%. FWFTB: e...more
Diana Sandberg
A murder mystery set in ancient Rome, around AD70, I believe. Not dreadful by any means, but not so good as the Brother Cadfael series, which is unfailingly entertaining, although quite formulaic. This one is reasonably entertaining, but somehow misses really evoking the age in which it is supposed to be set. The main character is too much the Philip Marlowe. There were no egregious anachronisms that I detected, though I’m no expert on the period, but the impression I got was of a modern mystery...more
Love this series. Only problem is that the early books are a bit hard to track down.

Falco and Helena relationship had a nice role in this book as part of the plot so it reads not too romance-y but still moves the action forward. I didn't fit all the pieces together until the end. I find I enjoy Falco's sense of justice as well.
Claire Webster
I'm trying again with Lindsey Davis and have just re-read The Silver Pigs and Venus in Copper. They're OK, but I just can't get to love them. There's something I find indefinably irritating about them -- previously I've thought it was the dialogue (particularly, for some reason, the inclusion of the apostrophising 'Lady'). This time I decided it was the obvious laddish comments the author has Falco make, especially to end a chapter. Or perhaps the knowing jokes -- things along the lines of 'what...more
The only reason I bought this previously unknown book is that it was set in Roman time which interests me and it sounded good when reading the summary.
The start didn't promise much for me when reading about jail and a rat ....
but I really enjoyed reading the story.
It is a fast paced story with the main character Marcus Falco, an investigator. This Marco Falco seems to be a funny guy who wants to do his job well, wants justice and is a good natured person. You just must like him, he reallys eems...more
Mystery set in ancient Rome--what more could a person want. Actually, never knew I was such a mystery fan until I started searching for books for my commute. Should have realized it though from my childhood reading of Trixie Beldon, the Bobbsey Twins and Nancy Drew.

This story certainly gave a good flavor of the time period and allowed me to visualize the Roman Forum and the layout of the city from my travels there. Corrupt officials, shady land-lords and beautiful daughters of Senators peppered...more
Starts off slow, and honestly, forgettable -- but in actuality, when the plot starts boiling, you'll soon find that you remember all those things stuck at the bottom of the pot! If the beginning was better I might even have given this a 4.5, but I'll give this a 3.5 (leaning towards 3, so a round down). I laughed a lot at this book -- the previous two books were very funny, but more serious; this one, though serious as well, strikes me as more comic than the last two. Especially the turbot. And...more
Gavin Meikle
I am a confirmed fan of Lindsey Davis's likeable Roman detective Falco. and going back to read on of the early books didn't disappoint. Her characters are beautifully drawn and set in such a vividly drawn historical context that you are instantly transported. I love the way she draws subtly draws amusing parallels with modern day society. The story was well plotted and kept me reading along at a gallop. Another excellent Marcus Didius Falco Novel. If you have never read these novels don't be put...more
I am totally enamored with this series! A perfect blend of history, mystery, romance, action, and humor.
¡Que rápido que me leo estos libros! ¡Creo que Marco Didio se va convertir en mi investigador favorito!
Fiction noir set in ancient Rome. Didn't quite work for me.
Lindsey Davis has redeemed herself. After a sub-par book II, Venus in Copper returns the Marcus Falco series back to form. A new murder mystery with a set cast of characters. More investigation than love story with Helena having a more sideshow type role. Falco's unique sense of humor which along with the attention to ancient history detail make Davis' writing stand out.

This book focuses on property management and the trials and tribulations of the big land-owners inside of Rome.
Who could fail to love Didius Falco? This is the fourth book in which the Roman investigator/spy tackles crime and mystery and the plot skips along happily with stray dogs, feminist parrots, odd officials, grasping landlords, thugs, Senators and snake-dancing women; typical Falco fare.
And his very satisfying romance with Helena Justina warms the heart.
It's a joy to read of Falco's mishaps and adventures, he is a man of integrity, whatever he pretends.
Read this, and feel good about life.
More like 3 1/2 stars. This is the first post conspiracy novel and it focuses on what works: the relationships between the characters. Falco and Helena finally decide to kept dancing together to the joy of the reader. The plot is weaved into the characters struggle and emotions. The plot serves the characters development and it works. As in real life the villains do not always get what's coming to them and it's okay since the characters live to be happy another day, another week.
I've learned you can rely on Lindsey Davis for an entertaining and informative read, and this series never seems to disappoint. This is the third of the Falco historical mystery series; Falco is an "informer" for the Emperor in first century Rome. This one deals with the activities of a "black widow" gold digger, and is particularly instructive on class issues and tensions in that culture, and the options and social status of freedmen who were once slaves.
This series just gets better and better. Falco is hired by a family of freed slaves who thinks one of their members is being taken in by a gold digger who has a penchant for murdering her rich husbands. As usual, as Falco delves into his task, he finds much than meets the eye. Less than scrupulous landlords play center stage, and Helena finally makes an important decision regarding her relationship with Falco. I couldn't put this one down!
"Venus in Copper" is the third book in this series. This time around the main plot is a pure detective mystery, although it is a clever and complex one. It is however garnished, as usual, with the personal troubles of our beloved raskal, Marcus Didius Falco. The humor of previous books is of course present even in "Venus in Copper" and the wonderful dialogue made me smile and laugh for most of the story.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Catilina's Riddle (Roma Sub Rosa, #3)
  • SPQR VIII: The River God's Vengeance (SPQR, #8)
  • Terra Incognita (Gaius Petreius Ruso, #2)
  • Ovid (Marcus Corvinus, #1)
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...
The Silver Pigs (Marcus Didius Falco, #1) Shadows in Bronze (Marcus Didius Falco, #2) The Iron Hand of Mars (Marcus Didius Falco, #4) Poseidon's Gold (Marcus Didius Falco, #5) Last Act in Palmyra (Marcus Didius Falco, #6)

Share This Book

“I had been right in the first place. Getting involved with politicians is complete stupidity.” 0 likes
More quotes…