Shadows in Bronze

Shadows in Bronze

Infobox Book |
name = Shadows in Bronze
title_orig =
translator =

image_caption = 1st edition cover
author = Lindsey Davis
illustrator =
cover_artist =
country = United Kingdom
language = English
series = Marcus Didius Falco
genre = Crime, Historical novel
publisher = Century UK ,Mysterious Press, US
release_date = 1990
media_type = Print (Hardback & Paperback)
pages = 452 pp (Paperback)
isbn = ISBN 0-7126-8459-X (Hardback)
preceded_by = The Silver Pigs
followed_by = Venus in Copper

"Shadows in Bronze" is a crime novel by Lindsey Davis.

Plot introduction

Set in Rome during AD 71, "Shadows in Bronze" stars Marcus Didius Falco, Informer and Imperial Agent.

Explanation of the novel's title

The bronze of the title is a statue of a young Helena Justina, the romantic interest of the hero, Marcus Didius Falco.

Plot summary

The story begins in Rome during late spring, AD 71. Marcus Didius Falco and a group of the Praetorian Guard under the captaincy of Julius Frontinus are disposing of a decomposing corpse. Secrecy is paramount because he was the victim of a discreet execution, having been guilty of treason against the Emperor.

In his position as imperial agent, Falco is involved with the tidying of the conspiracy (The Silver Pigs) and the emptying of the traitor's house. Anacrites and Momus are also involved with this. When Falco and Anacrites arrive at the Palace to report to the Emperor, Falco runs into the Senator Decimus Camillus Verus and his daughter, Helena Justina. He then reports to the Emperor who wishes to destroy any evidence that his son, Domitian, was involved with the scheme.

When a freedman bursts in to inform the Emperor that the Temple of Hercules Gaditanus is on fire, Anacrites is sent to the Transtiberina to find a freedman (Barnabas) who has been following Falco around, whilst Falco is sent to investigate the arson attack.There he discovers that Curtius Longinus, in Rome to see the Emperor, has been killed in the fire.He returns to the Palace to be informed that Anacrites had been unable to locate Barnabas, the freedman immediately becoming suspect in the arson and death.

Falco is then sent to Magna Graecia in southern Italy in search of Aulus Curtius Gordianus. Arriving in Crotone, Falco is almost immediately caught up in a brawl in the marketplace, being rescued by Laesus. Laesus is a ship's captain with whom Falco then shares a meal at the mansio. There he also runs into Milo, steward of the man Falco is seeking, whom Falco ends up hitting with a funeral urn.

Falco finally tracks down Gordianus at the Temple of Hera at Cape Colonna. He informs him of the death of his brother, Curtius Longinus. Falco then spends night days on a beach with a goat previously intended as a sacrifice, before an acolyte at the Temple informs him that Gordianus has returned. It is suggested that Gordianus accept a post in Paestum. Barnabas is once more implicated in an attack, this time upon the Deputy Priest, but Falco is forced to return to Rome without tracking him down.

At the end of June Falco travels to the Bay of Neapolis. This time he is travelling in the company of his friend, Petronius, and Petronius' family, as well as his own nephew, Larius. This 'holiday' is in fact a cover for Falco trying to track down the remaining suspects in the case. His plan is to masquerade as a plumber in the company of his nephew. In that guise they travel around various country estates.

One estate that they visit is that of Caprenius Marcellus. There they run once more into Helena Justina. She is visiting her father-in-law.

Due to the amorous nature of their ox, Nero, Falco and Larius are arrested in Herculaneum. They are taken to see the local magistrate, Aemilius Rufus. There they again meet Helena, as well as her friend, Rufus' sister. Falco becomes a harp tutor to the sister.

Falco manages to track down Aufidius Crispus at a banquet the senator is hosting. On their return they once again find traces of Barnabas, but the freedman has vanished. After several days, Falco catches up with him, only to discover that 'Barnabas' is in fact Atius Pertinax, the ex-husband of Helena Justina. Believed dead, it is made clear that Marcellus expects the divorced couple to re-marry.

Pertinax and Crispus flee Imperial questioning on Crispus' yacht, but Crispus is killed when the yacht is rammed by a trireme under the authority of Rufus. Pertinax escapes, returning to Rome and attempting to force Helena Justina to re-marry him in order to regain his money. He is tricked and is finally killed by Falco.

Characters in "Shadows in Bronze"

Main Characters

* "Marcus Didius Falco" - Informer and Imperial Agent from the Aventine.
* "Helena Justina" - Daughter of the Senator Decimus Camillus Verus, and romantic interest of Falco.
* "Lucius Petronius Longus" - Member of the Vigiles and friend of Falco.

Other Characters

* "Aemilia Fausta" - Sister of Rufus Clemens.
* "Anacrites" - Imperial spy.
* "Arria Silvia" - Wife of Petronius.
* "Aulus Curtius Gordianus" - Chief Priest of Hera.
* "Bryon" - Horse trainer.
* "Caprenius Marcellus" - ex-Consul and father of Atius Pertinax.
* "Chrysosto" - A Levantine secretary.
* "Decimus Camillus Verus" - Senatorial father of Helena Justina.
* "Famia" - Horse doctor and brother-in-law of Falco.
* "Geminus" - Auctioneer.
* "Gnaeus Atius Pertinax Caprenius Marcellus" - Ex-husband of Helena Justina and traitor to the Empire, supposed murdered three months before the start of the story.
* "Gornia" - Foreman.
* "Julia Justa" - Mother of Helena Justina.
* "Julius Frontinus" - Captain of the Praetorian Guard.
* "Laesus" - Captain of the "Sea Scorpion".
* "Larius" - Fourteen-year-old nephew of Falco.
* "Lenia" - A Laundress.
* "Lucius Aufidius Crispus" - Senator from Latium.
* "Milo" - Steward of Curtius Gordianus.
* "Momus" - Slave overseer.
* "Ollia" - Fifteen-year-old neighbour of Silvia.
* "Petronilla" - Daughter of Petronius.
* "Secunda" - Friend of Lenia.
* "Sextus Aemilius Rufus Clemens" - Praetor.
* "Silvana" - Daughter of Petronius.
* "Smaractus" - Falco's Landlord.
* "Tadia Longina" - Two-year-old daughter of Petronius.
* "Titus Caesar" - Eldest son of the Emperor.
* "Tullia" - A barmaid in the Transtiberina.
* "Ventriculus" - Plumber.
* "Vespasian Augustus" - Emperor of Rome.

Death Toll

* "Atius Pertinax" - Stabbed but not fatally injured by Aulus Curtius Gordianus, goaded into tripping onto the lodged blade by Falco.
* "Aufidius Crispus" - Killed when his yacht was rammed by a trireme.
* "Curtius Longinus" - Killed during fire at Temple of Hercules Gaditanus.

Major themes

* Tidying up after conspiracy of The Silver Pigs
* Developing relationship of Marcus Didius Falco and Helena Justina

Allusions/references to actual history, geography and current science

* Set in Rome during AD 71 during the reign of Emperor Vespasian.

Film, TV, Radio or theatrical adaptations

* BBC World: Radio 4 starring Anton Lesser/Anna Madeley

Release details

* September 1990, UK, Century, ISBN ISBN 0-7126-8459-X, Hardback
* 1999, UK, Isis Audio, ISBN 0-7531-0687-6 (read by Christopher Scott)
* September 2000, UK, Arrow, ISBN 0-09-941472-4, Paperback

ources, references, external links, quotations

[ Author's Official Website]

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