The whodunnit with a historical setting has been around for a long time, but it received a new slant with the publication of Lindsey Davisís first book, The Silver Pigs. In her investigator, Marcus Didius Falco, she had created a Philip Marlowe for Ancient Rome. His wise cracking manner, and the variety of 1st-century backgrounds into which he is thrown, have proved a potent combination. The attraction of the books lies in the seediness of their settings, the wickedness of their villains and the opportunities they offer for readers to find modern parallels. Their success can be measured by the number of inferior imitations they have spawned. Lindsey Davis is now one of that small elite of crime writers whose hardbacks make it into The Sunday Times bestsellers list.
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