Desperate Undertaking: A Flavia Albia Novel (Flavia Albia Series, 10)
Desperate Undertaking (tenth book in the Flavia Albia series, but able to be read as a standalone) is the first murder mystery set in Rome that I’ve read. I half expected it to be as solid and serious as I have always pictured Rome, but found to my delight that it is a breezy, witty novel with a heroine who is a joy to read about. It is about a disturbingly creative serial killer, but at the same time, it’s incredibly fun.
Something which I enjoyed (though other readers might find distasteful, depending on how much seriousness they look for in historical fiction) was Flavia’s voice. Davis tosses in bits of modern British slang, perhaps as much because she is British as because Flavia is. Though they are technically anachronisms, I found them not only enjoyable but a breath of fresh air in a world that too often becomes stale with the weight of time. This isn’t exactly how people in Rome would have spoken, but neither would they have been constantly formal.
My one complaint is that sometimes it feels too breezy and quick. Interrogations are passed over with only a paragraph or so of narration telling us what Flavia did, said, and heard. Sometimes it works, but other times I wanted just a little more.
|St. Martin's Publishing Group
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