cover image The Third Nero: A Flavia Alba Novel

The Third Nero: A Flavia Alba Novel

Lindsey Davis. Minotaur, $26.99 (352p) ISBN 978-1-250-07891-9

Davis has never been better at using actual political turmoil in the service of a page-turning plot than in her fifth novel set in first-century Rome featuring freelance investigator Flavia Alba (after 2016’s The Graveyard of the Hesperides). On the day of Flavia’s wedding to Tiberius Manlius Faustus, “a sweet and serious person,” a lightning strike seriously injures Tiberius and kills three other men. As Flavia contemplates adapting to a new and unwelcome reality with a bedridden husband, bureaucrat Claudius Philippus approaches her with an extremely sensitive assignment: Emperor Domitian, who’s notorious for having perceived enemies executed without hesitation, has recently ordered the deaths of two provincial governors. Both men may have supported another governor who attempted to wrest the throne away from Domitian, and Philippus asks Flavia to find proof that the emperor’s suspicions are warranted. Meanwhile, three pretenders passing themselves off as the resurrected Nero threaten Domitian as well. Davis successfully maintains a high level of tension throughout. [em](July) [/em]