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)

6 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….?

  • 16 May, 2023 at 3:10 pm

    A waiting to read, which I will, despite reviewers reservations. –

  • 25 July, 2023 at 11:34 am

    I own every Lindsey Davis book. I love Falco, and for a few books I was beginning to really like Albia. But this book? Oh God, it was just terrible. And then she does a big spoiler alert page at the very end, and gives us a family tree. I would really appreciate anyone explaining this, ending to me and why it was a spoiler and why I should care. I don’t even remember the Falco case with Ursuline to begin with. I think this has been the worst Lindsey Davis I’ve ever read. Could someone please please explain that spoiler alert, before I lose my mind because I didn’t see any spoilers and it was such a letdown, especially after how tedious the book seemed. And there’s absolutely no way I’m rereading it to figure it out.

    Lindsay Davis as a person is absolutely lovely. I sent an email and she answered, which I thought was incredibly kind. And I adore the books. But the attraction to this series was not the mystery, as it was in the Falco series. I liked seeing ancient Rome through the eyes of an independent woman. For a while, it was the domestic life between Albia and Tiberius that I loved reading about and I was so happy the two nephews came, as well as Marcia and boyfriend. To me, I would’ve enjoyed an entire novel based solely on the two households of Albia and Falco. Falco was believable, but the Albia series has lost her sense of humor. I’m also really tired of her husband behaving like an invalid all the time. A strong woman like Albia needs a strong man. And while I understand he’s still suffering due to the short time frame of the books, I’m just tired of him lying around or going off to do some thing and disappearing. This mystery was not a mystery. It was one of the most tedious reads in quite a while. I’m a hard-core fan who feels as if you’re going to introduce people from novels in another series, and use their storyline, there needs to be significantly more recap than what was given. The fact that I’m saying this about my beloved Lindsey Davis is heartbreaking. but perhaps the series should not have been centered solely on Albia. I don’t understand why the first book didn’t start with her learning the trade from Falco… In order to see the real Rome unfortunately, we have to have a man who can gain access.

    That’s one more thing… Why are Helena and Falco upset with Albia anyway? Their friend was murdered, but it wasn’t her fault. Why in gods name would they behave like this toward their daughter albeit adopted? The way her sisters live and are treated compared with Albia really seems like a slap in the face. And did I miss something or did Albia have sex with her uncle Camillus?

    Oh no, I didn’t mean to do that… I’d love if someone could answer the questions, and I do appreciate the ability to discuss this with other readers who enjoy the books Thanks in advance for your help and a great review!

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