Thursday, 17 November 2016

the silver pigs

On Saturday 10th September I finished The Silver Pigs by Lindsey Davis. It was just okay. I'd picked up the first three at the Trinity Square bookstall recently, and got 2 and 3 in case I enjoyed the first one, as they were only 50p. Nos 2 and 3 will be going into the charity bag, unread.

I thought I'd give it a go, as I was familiar with the series - private eye in first-century Rome. It may have lived up to the Flashman comparison in one of the cover quotes, in slightly disreputable slightly anti-hero terms (but only slightly both), but the Raymond Chandler comparison in one of the others was definitely not deserved in terms of quality or atmosphere or writing, though you could see it was 'that kind of thing' in plotting and structure.

I'm not that interested in first-century Rome, which didn't help, as it seemed to be meticulously researched, so there was a lot of period in it.

Also in general I'm not interested in a large amount of stuff about the detective's personal life - I'm all about the puzzle and the one-off plot - and there was a lot of personal story detail in a way which I suspected was setting up for a lot more of that in future novels, and a look at the Wikipedia entry for the series suggests that the personal soap opera is a large part of the series. And the crime and it's solving didn't grip me; sometimes it felt peripheral.

And I did just find it a bit of a plod to read (to the extent that I toyed with giving it up). So, I'm glad I gave it a go, but it was not for me.

The most interesting thing in the book was the line in her bio which said 'The Silver Pigs is her first published novel, although two previous works have been shortlisted for the Georgette Heyer prize.', which made me wonder what kind of literary prize you could win with an unpublished manuscript (one for which the prize is being published, perhaps; unusual to have such a notable name attached to such, though).

The cover gives a fair representation of the book, with its illustration of a Roman standard on a blue marble background, and a big quote from Ellis Peters (as a trustworthy historical detective authority - and a way of saying on the cover it's a detective story without explicitly saying so). The lettering's okay; the three roundels illustrate elements of the story, which is a nice touch, as is the blood on the point of the standard (and Falco's name on the standard).

First line: When the girl came rushing up the steps, I decided she was wearing far too many clothes.
Last line: Tonight she was mine.

Dedication: For Richard