Fatal Legacy is book eleven in the Flavia Albia series. I am very grateful to NetGalley and the publishers for the opportunity of an ARC. I’m beginning to wonder whether Lindsey Davis is feeling the strain of producing a new volume each year. If you count Falco as well, this is the thirty-first in her crime series set in Ancient Rome.

Fatal Legacy (Flavia Albia #11)

by Lindsey Davis

In first century Rome, Flavia Albia takes on an easy case that soon proves to be anything but as, at every turn, bodies—old and new—dog her path.

Flavia Albia, daughter of Marcus Didius Falco, has taken over her father’s business as a private informer. She only has two hard and fast rules – avoid political cases and family cases because nothing good comes of either of them. Unfortunately, since Albia isn’t good at avoiding either, it’s really more of a guideline. So when her Aunt Junia demands Albia track down a couple of deadbeats who owe her money, it’s an offer Albia can’t refuse.

It turns out to be a relatively easy job, requiring only some half-hearted blackmail, and it leads to some new work – tracking down some essential paperwork for the debtor family. But nothing is truly easy in Rome – if Albia doesn’t find the paperwork that proves that family’s ancestor was a properly freed slave, the family could lose everything. The more she digs, the more skeletons she finds in their closet, until murder in the past leads to murder in the present. Now, it’s serious, even deadly, and Albia has precious little time to uncover the truth. [goodreads]

My Review

Fatal Legacy starts with a sort of domestic spat. Some customers leave not only without paying at auntie’s restaurant. They leave the insult of some rivets in a dish instead of coin. Because Flavia Albia has turned up on an errand, she’s coerced into finding the customers and restoring the payment due.

After some padding by the author about the type of things going on in the family and the general state of Rome, Flavia uncovers the family of the reprobates. The matriarch hires her to investigate a will. This uncovers a can of worms, or a nest of vipers, or a tangled web of lies and deceit. Slowly Flavia strips away until, after quite a decent story, we know who did what to whom more or less. Not satisfied at this point, the author convenes a long-winded showdown for the characters. I think this aims to make absolutely clear that the reader knows who did what, and why. The trouble is, by now we don’t care about the people concerned. Tying up loose ends is all very well, but some of these we didn’t realise were loose. We don’t care when they are finally tied up. Twists in the tail are only twists if they are relevant to the plot, rather than extra colour.

So I’ve been generous with a 4 star rating, because the story itself is worthy of it. But it could have had a good deal of editing, and been a better read as a result. And the plot is better than a few of the really nasty incidents of previous ones in the series.

Book Review | Fatal Legacy (Flavia Albia #11)

5 thoughts on “Book Review | Fatal Legacy (Flavia Albia #11)

  • 13 May, 2023 at 3:39 pm

    I tried reading the first in this series and didn’t really enjoy it. I do enjoy the Libertus series by Rosemary Rowe – about a Celtic slave who gained his freedom and became a citizen (and mosaicist) in Roman Britannia. The pace is slow but the main character is a dear. And the plots are suitably convoluted.

  • 13 May, 2023 at 3:45 pm

    I can’t really imagine doing a book a year for 20+ years. I definitely think it could lead to burnout. I wonder if the tighter version of the story didn’t meet the requisite word count and so thing got padded, or if after reaching a certain level of fame editors become reluctant to end writes back to slice and dice.

    • 14 May, 2023 at 7:59 am

      Either or both perhaps. Ms Davis is about 4 years older than me… perhaps the pressure from the publishers is too much. Also, I think the last four books have taken place over about four months in her Rome. Maybe she’s looking for a way to wrap up Albia’s story. Or should be….?


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