First in the Falco series
If you want to start at the beginning and meet the retired soldier, now Private Informer, this is the first of the hilariously written Falco series.
“It was late summer. Rome frizzled like a pancake on a griddleplate. People unlaced their shoes but had to keep them on; not even an elephant could cross the streets unshod.
People flopped on stools in shadowed doorways, bare knees apart, naked to the waist, and in the backstreets of the Aventine Sector where I lived, that was just the women.
My Amazon link The Silver Pigs
Marcus Didius Falco is the narrator in a series of novels by Lindsey Davis. Using the style of modern detective stories Davis portrays the world of the Roman Empire under Vespasian. The tone is arch and satirical, at times uproariously funny, but the historical information provided is carefully accurate.
A lot of the joy in reading Falco comes from the easy familiarity you feel with the settings. None of us have visited Rome in the 1st century, but in the series you really feel as if you know these places – just as you know your own city.
So you roam the Aventine with Falco, then cross to the seamy side of town over the Aurelian Bridge to the Transtiberina, usually shadowed by various numbers of thugs.
Falco himself is a dab hand at writing. In Last Act in Palmyra, he goes undercover as a playwright to Syria and writes The Spook Who Spoke, a Plautine comedy, tentatively identified as the prototype for Hamlet.