Ode to a Banker

Ode to a Banker is a classic and entertaining body in the library murder. It is mid-July, Falco is about to give a small private recital of his poetry with Rutilius Gallicus (remember him?) and it is rumoured that Domitian Caesar will be paying a visit too (eeek!). Things go from bad to worse when the recital is gate-crashed by a group of pasty-faced “writers” and their patron, a scriptorium owner called Aurelius Chrysippus. The next day Falco is offered the opportunity to have his poems published by Chrysippus, only the deal isn’t as good as it sounds. When the scriptorium owner’s body turns up in the library, the over-worked Vigile enquiry chief (Petro) commissions Falco to investigate with the promise of a bonus if the culprit confesses. So, Falco delves into the world of literary jealousies, fraud, poverty and writer’s block. He discovers that there are puzzling links with the Aurelian Bank (Chrysippus’ other business), Chrysippus’ ex-wife (who is on strangely friendly terms with his new wife), his son Diomedes and his business partner Lucrio (who’s rather good at extracting loan payments!). The final denouement occurs in time-honoured Agatha Christie tradition by gathering all the suspects and witnesses at the scene of the murder and flushing out the culprit by a logical progression of arguments and accusations. Does Falco get his confession bonus? I’m not saying.

There is also a side-plot involving scandalous rumours about just what Anacrites and Falco’s Ma get up to together – made worse by the fact that Anacrites also seems rather interested in Falco’s widowed sister Maia. Falco’s Pa is suffering a bereavement, and the new bachelor Petro is moping a lot. Nux is expecting puppies at any time soon, and Helena has some news for Falco. Oh, and just who is the talented author of the exciting Greek adventure yarn “Gondomon, King of Traximene”?

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