Needless to say, Beauty finished with everyone living happily ever after. In fact the whole book, while delightful, seemed extremely low stakes—though of course, in comparison with Mistress of the Empire very little does.
After some consideration I picked up a novel which I had already read: The Jupiter Myth, by Lindsey Davis. Though unusually titled for its series, this is one of the Falco detective novels which proceeded the Albia series. In fact, it’s this book where Albia herself first appears as a street urchin in Londinium.
The 20 Falco novels, not including the first two, can generally be divided into “Home” and “Away” (domus et procul?) stories, where most of the action occurs either in the vicinity of Rome or in some far distant province of the Empire: here in Britannia, and as a Brit herself Davis nevertheless spends this book (and frankly all other books) humorously trashing the place.
Rereading a mystery novel seems a little silly, but I’ve found that what with the quality of the books beyond simply their detective elements—and the fact that my brain tends to resemble a sieve at times—makes rereading Davis’ novels as much of a treat as the first time. Both Falco and Albia have larger metaplots, which interconnect with each other: the events of The Jupiter Myth draw significantly on the books before and are in turn very important for those after.
Of course, I know how it’s going to turn out (except for the latest Albia book, which I still don’t have), but it’s still great.