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The Silver Pigs

(Marcus Didius Falco #1)

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  11,670 ratings  ·  862 reviews
When Marcus Didius Falco, a Roman "informer" who has a nose for trouble that's sharper than most, encounters Sosia Camillina in the Forum, he senses immediately all is not right with the pretty girl. She confesses to him that she is fleeing for her life, and Falco makes the rash decision to rescue her—a decision he will come to regret. For Sosia bears a heavy burden: as he ...more
Paperback, 329 pages
Published October 3rd 2006 by Minotaur Books (first published 1989)
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Ian Cooper In my opinion, if you want to get a good start with Falco, start with book 4 in the series: The Iron Hand of Mars. Lindsey Davis's writing is much mor…moreIn my opinion, if you want to get a good start with Falco, start with book 4 in the series: The Iron Hand of Mars. Lindsey Davis's writing is much more mature by this book. Books 1 and 2, although good, are a bit of a grind. Book 3 is better, but in my opinion still not up to the standard of her later works.(less)
Ian Cooper Book one is a bit tough to get through. Book 2 is better, book 3 is even better, and by book 4, Lindsey Davis's writing is fully mature. Writers new t…moreBook one is a bit tough to get through. Book 2 is better, book 3 is even better, and by book 4, Lindsey Davis's writing is fully mature. Writers new to her books may want to start with her (much later) Flavia Albia books and come back to Falco when they're sure they like her writing style.(less)

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Average rating 3.93  · 
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 ·  11,670 ratings  ·  862 reviews

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Apr 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Way back in early 2015, I read Lindsey Davis' The Ides of April. I liked it, and since it featured the daughter of Marcus Didius Falco, I thought I would eventually get around to the original character. The Silver Pigs is the first of many Falco novels that Davis wrote over a period of more than 20 years.

I rarely think that an entertaining mystery merits five stars, but this one does. For many of us who would rather read historical mysteries than current true crime, the attraction is what an au
Aug 20, 2012 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Historical fiction & mystery fans
Recommended to Terence by: Impulse checkout @ library
The Silver Pigs is fun to read. And if you're looking to read to relax, there's no better praise.

As I mentioned in my comment, the voice and tone reminded me of Glen Cook's Garrett, P.I. series sans the fantasy element. Even more strongly, I'm reminded of a Roman Rockford Files, which may be brilliantly illuminative to those of a certain age or who have a taste for '70s detective shows. For the rest, you can wiki it and then hunt down copies of the episodes (which stream on Netflix).

But I'm digr
Nov 28, 2016 added it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dnf

'Now don't be worried!' I reassured her. 'Tell me, how old are you?'
She was sixteen. O Jupiter!

'Do I look like a person who is married?'

She looked like a person who soon should be!

Nope. Not for me.
Jamie Collins
Wow, I really liked this! It's very accessible; you can enjoy it even if you don't know a thing about the history of Ancient Rome. The author supplies historical details smoothly without lecturing the reader.

The mystery itself wasn't especially gripping, but the story was fast-paced, with truly likeable characters and great dialogue. I started snickering at the dramatis personae and continued to be amused all the way through the book.

There are frequent, oddly placed paragraph breaks, which make
aPriL does feral sometimes
'Silver Pigs' begins at a run and it really doesn't let up. Marcus Didius Falco, a 70 AD Roman private informer whose usual jobs involve following young philandering wives for rich old husbands, finds himself in the middle of a mystery of murder and mayhem involving important senators of high rank and even the Emperor Vespasian himself.

Thirty-year-old Falco has a large family and a mother, but they all are grieving for Falco's brother, Didius Festus, who was a heroic soldier in the Roman army an
Karen Witzler
Enjoyed the reread. I always find new plot points or historical references that I've missed. This time it was Vitellius and mushy peas. ...more
Deborah Ideiosepius
This is the highly entertaining and enjoyable first novel in the series. Marcus Didius Falco is a first-century detective in Rome, or as they are known there and then, an informer.

This story starts in a hot day at the Rome Forum, where Falco sights and then takes in hand a fleeing young woman from the senator class. Sosia Camillina is sixteen, radiantly innocent and someone has tried to kidnap her from the very sanctum of her home. Sosia has no idea why and discovering that is the long, often o
Blaine DeSantis
Aug 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“When the girl came rushing up the steps, I decided she was wearing far too many clothes.”

Sam Spade? Phillip Marlowe? Mike Hammer? Nope, none other than Marcus Didius Falco the private investigator who is the creation of English author Lindsey Davis. And “The Silver Pigs” is the first of 20 books she has written about the adventures of Falco set in 70 A.D. during the the beginning of the reign of Roman Emperor Vespacian.
I always marvel at how well British authors can work with the Roman Empire a
Oct 19, 2018 rated it liked it
I like the MC in this series. He is like your uncle who lives next door. He is normal, trying to do the best he can....and he can be suckered into things. I liked that I got to see more detail about him.

I've read a few of these novels in this series, and they all share some commonalities. The author writes with a contemporary flair.....even though this is Ancient Rome historical fiction. That usually isn't something I like, but she makes it work in her books. I also like the way she constructs
Dec 09, 2007 rated it really liked it
Oh - where do I start? A private eye series set in ancient Rome. This is the first one - I won't add all the books individually, there are (I think) 18 by now, but it's set in Rome in 70AD, the hero is Marcus Didius Falco, a Roman 'informer'.... and his friends, and his over the top family, and his lady, Helena Justina, the senator's daughter, way out of his league but that doesn't stop them, lol, and HER family... They are my favourite ancient Roman couple Evah. There is adventure all over the ...more
Assaph Mehr
May 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: roman-detectives
The series that tarted it all (for me). I always loved ancient Rome (since I first read Asterix), and detective stories. This was the perfect combination.

In Silver Pigs, we are introduced to Marcus Didius Falco, a hard-boiled detective set in ancient Rome under Vespasian's rule. Falco is taken on a journey from what starts with an upper-class young lady in trouble with some ruffians, to the highest echelons of society and money counterfeiting.

Expect a noir feel to the story, with gruff men and
Kelsey Hanson
Mar 09, 2015 rated it it was ok
Actual rating: 2.5 (Seriously Goodreads. Lots of people writing in their own half stars. Take the hint!!)

The first thought I had in the first chapter was "Is the narrator British? What is he doing in Ancient Rome". I later learned that the author is in fact from England. I didn't care much for the story. For some reason, the plot was really hard to follow apart from the obvious (and incredibly played out) love at first fight line. The saving grace of this story was the snarky and likeable main c
Feb 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
I first encountered Marcus Didius Falco in a short story in Classical Whodunits, many years ago. At the time I was more interested in the late Roman Republic, so I was more drawn to the Steven Saylor mysteries featuring Gordianus the Finder, contemporary of Cicero and Julius Caesar and the significant events of that era. I later rediscovered Falco through audiobook versions of "A Body in the Bath House" and "The Jupiter Myth," which occur much later in the series. "The Silver Pigs" is the debut ...more
Karin Slaughter
Mar 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is the first Davis I read and I loved it. My pal (and fellow author) Fidelis Morgan suggested I give it a try because I couldn't think of a book that wrote about a successful relationship in an interesting way. I have to say that Fidelis was right. Falco and Helene are very solid in their love for one another, but they disagree and argue and do all the usual things couples do without cutting too deep when they disagree. I think that's the key to a relationship (haha, and a sign that it migh ...more
Susan in NC
3.5 stars - I enjoyed Helena, Falco, his mother and Publius and several other characters in this Ancient Roman mystery, but I've never been much into the period and had a hard time getting into it - but I'd been hearing about the series for so long I wanted to give it a try.

The characters were definitely a strong point and I plan to look for the next book in this long and popular series; while there was plenty of dry humor and excellent research into the period, the mystery itself was very compl
Mar 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
First time I've ever bothered to switch edition on a GR book, and that's because reading this book in 260 pages of titchy tiny font really do make a difference. Does slow things down and make it that little bit worse.

Still plenty good though. The fun is in the humour because the mystery is sadly a little underdeveloped, but that's okay, because Lindsay Davies as Falco is one of my favourite authorial voices ever; irreverent, sentimental and self-deprecating.
Aug 30, 2007 rated it really liked it
When a Philip-Marlowe like character becomes the narrator of events that take place in Ancient Rome, you get Lindsey Davis! The research is excellent, the stories are fascinating, the historical truth is respected and… a sort of hard boiled detective investigates. Probably one of the best historical novels, along with Sharan Newman, on the market.
Nov 02, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Christine by: Terence, Jamie and others
Ah to be Rome surronded by naked people!

Which isn't quite what happens to Marcus Didius Falco; he does seem to get surronded by women an awful lot.

This is actually a quite funny, sometimes touching, and very good novel. Falco must solve the mystery of the pigs (which are really silver and not pig shaped at all) while dealing with his mother and various others.

Lou Robinson
Jun 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
Despite the slightly strange first person writing style, I really enjoyed this book. It introduces Marcus Didius Falco, a private informer just about surviving in Rome at the time of the emperor Vespasian. It's fast paced and has all the elements of a novel to keep you entertained, bit of romance, crime, travel... I'll certainly be picking up the next Falco story. ...more
I needed a new series to make me fall in love with a clever detective (informer) all over again, and I really wanted it to be the M Didius Falco series. The long and short of it is that Lindsey Davis failed to make me fall in love. It was more like a mild like. I can't see myself coming back for more of this series.

I came looking for a genuine mystery. I was hoping for some Raymond Chandler style Roman detection, or some brooding Henning Mankell style Roman detection, or even some frustrating I
Kara Babcock
I read some series like River Song travels with the Doctor: out of order. I’ve dipped and dallied with various books in the Falco series, but most recently I read Venus in Copper before going back to the source, Falco #1: The Silver Pigs. Here we meet Lindsey Davis’ private eye: Marcus Didius Falco, an informer in the first-century Roman empire. Falco is constantly on the hunt for new clients and new income, lest his greedy landlord send some gladiators around to bust his kneecaps (and other ...more
Dec 24, 2018 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Bettie, Wanda
From BBC Radio 4 Extra:
Rome, AD 70: Roman sleuth Marcus Didius Falco chances upon an illegal trade in precious metal (the silver pigs) after mounting a rescue from a kidnap gang.

Anton Lesser brings the popular detective to life in Lindsey Davis's witty and enthralling adventures set in the days of the Roman Empire. Dramatised by Mary Cutler.

With Felicity Jones as Sosia, Ben Crowe as Petronius, Robert Lister as Decimus, Richard Derrington as Publius and Frances Jeater as Falco's Mother.

Directed i
Lisabet Sarai
Nov 04, 2016 rated it liked it
It seems like a promising premise: take the noir stock character of the down-and-out gumshoe, gruff on the outside but with a soft center, and move it to Imperial Rome. Throw in some local color, a know-it-all mother, a couple of dames, some nasty bad guys, and an engaging interlude in the uncivilized wilds of Britain, seen through the eyes of the urbane Roman private eye Marcus Didius Falco.

Unfortunately, The Silver Pigs didn't quite work for me. For one thing, despite the author's detailed des
Jul 12, 2012 rated it liked it
Not bad, but it has some flaws. The book has a good pace and several charismatic characters. Plus the emperor and caesars have an original (but don't know if realistic) psychological portrait.
The bad part, for me, has to do with the writing. I cannot say that Davis can't write, but she has problems with the order of exposition (she puts the horse before the cart, making you think you've lost something you can't find running through previous pages, just to let you discover that it's the conclusi
Jun 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Listened to the audiobook narrated by Christian Rodska - superb narration, really flavorful British accents throughout and brought all the characters to life.

The story is fast paced and involves a detailed plot of embezzlement, murder, and class politics. Out hero, Falco, appears quite rough around the edges and of low character when we first meet him, but don't be put off-this is as much a story about the internal life and evolution of Falco as it is about government intrigue.
Mar 13, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: hf, mystery, italy
Enjoyable read, a first in this historical fiction mystery series set in 1st Century Rome. I felt as if I was reading a 1940's or 50's detective novel but with a toga wearing protagonist. Helena, a Roman Senator's daughter, becomes his unlikely partner in trying to track down a murderer involved in a scheme that siphons silver intended for the Emperor's treasury. ...more
Eileen Charbonneau
Aug 14, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: history mystery lovers
Run don't walk to your local bookseller and start this fantastic series of first century Rome detective Marcus Falco. He will win your heart and his nutty family and associats will continue to delight through many adventures. ...more
2.5 stars

Julie Davis
Apr 17, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was an early appreciator of Lindsey Davis's Falco mysteries, often buying them from England before they were published over here. However, a few years ago I got rid of most of my copies, reasoning that I could always get them from the library. Hahaha! Another long cherished belief destroyed by the Corona Virus.

This hardback was just a few dollars and I will be hanging onto it. I've read it many times before but not for several years. Immersion into a good mystery, ancient Rome, and Falco's ir
The opening bow of Marcus Didus Falco is like a Chandlerest noir novel, with first person point of view, big corrupt city and this disenchanted, cynical PI who's at the wrong place at the right time.

Davis succeeds in creating a believable Rome set in Vespasian's time (70 AD) with it's corrupt politicians, corrupt army, corrupt police and public administration and makes it connect with our modern life. That's a tour de force.

Of course like any good noir novel, there is a damsel in distress that
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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

Other books in the series

Marcus Didius Falco (1 - 10 of 20 books)
  • 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)
  • 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)

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