With a book blog, the inevitable question I get is "Who is your favorite author?" That's an impossible question to answer of course, but I do have my own shortlist of favorites, including this year's CWA Diamond Dagger award winner, Lindsey Davis.The prolific British writer has penned 20 books in her famous Falco series of mysteries. Marcus Didius Falco is a former Roman soldier who is makes his living as an informer for the emperor Vespasian. He is in love with senator's daughter Helena, which is frowned upon in good Roman society, he has a very extended and exasperating family, and he often finds himself on the wrong side of a fist.
Lindsey Davis has a knack for mixing humor, mystery, and history into the perfect storytelling recipe. Her characters are real enough that I am half in love with Falco myself, and I am sure Helena and I could be best friends. I'm so protective of my relationship with the characters that I feel a sense of ownership. Here's an example ― on a flight from China, I was astonished to see an absolutely awful film made in Australia, featuring a mish-mash of Falco storylines, and showcasing some of the worst acting in the history of acting. I was appalled that anyone would treat Falco that way. As soon as I stepped off the plane, I shot off an email to Lindsey Davis, telling her how horrified I was on her behalf. Her response told me that she had no control over that particular film, but that she appreciated my outrage. HA!
And that's the key, really, of a good author. Anyone can tell a story, but not everyone can convince you that it's all real. To sustain that through 20 books, with each character growing in depth and each story better than the last, is an almost unbelievable feat.
I was lucky enough to hear Lindsey Davis speak at the 2008 Malice Domestic event in Maryland, and to meet her afterward. Luckily, she was just as I expected ― funny, wry, smart, and interesting. I had her sign my favorite of the Falco mysteries, The Iron Hand of Mars, which is also ranked #5 on her own website by her fans.
She asked me why I chose to have her sign that particular book, and I told her it was the scene with the bull that made it one of my favorites, which caused us both to giggle. "Ah, yes, the bull. A good character all around," she said. No, I won't tell you what exactly the bull is all about ― you need to read the book. But trust me, you will laugh out loud.
If you do decide to read the Falco series (and you must), begin with Silver Pigs, the first in the series. I want you to meet Falco, Helena, Petronius, Junilla Tacita, and all the rest at the very beginning so you can watch them as they themselves meet, argue, laugh, grow, love, and live through the entire series.
For more, go to Lindsey Davis's official website by clicking here.
Other Recommended Books by Lindsey Davis: Course of Honor (fantastic), and the entire Falco series.