Three Hands in the Fountain

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Three Hands in the Fountain
ThreeHandsInTheFountain.jpg
First edition
Author Lindsey Davis
CountryUnited Kingdom
LanguageEnglish
Series Marcus Didius Falco
Genre Historical mystery crime novel
Publisher Arrow Books, Mysterious Press
Publication date
1997
Media typePrint (Hardback & Paperback)
Pages304 pp
ISBN 0-7126-7791-7
OCLC 267166076
Preceded by A Dying Light in Corduba  
Followed by Two for the Lions  

Three Hands in the Fountain is a 1997 historical mystery crime novel by Lindsey Davis and the ninth book of the Marcus Didius Falco Mysteries series. Set in Rome between August and October, AD 73, the novel stars Marcus Didius Falco, informer and imperial agent. The title alludes to the song "Three Coins in the Fountain" as well as to the macabre discovery which triggers Falco's investigation.

Contents

Plot summary

Falco arrives home in Rome with Helena Justina and Julia Junilla Laeitana, his new baby daughter, and barely have time to settle in before being subjected to a welcome-home party. Falco and Petronius sneak out for a drink in a nearby street next to a fountain, which is not working. When a worker turns up to clean it, it is revealed that a severed hand had blocked the aqueduct. Falco and Petro start to investigate, but their case is stolen by Anacrites. Petro puts up a sign proclaiming that awards are to be given on the discovery of any body parts. Falco talks to his brother-in-law and is told that severed body parts have been discovered in the rivers and aqueducts for several years, usually after festivals. When he's told that Petro put up the sign he runs back to his old apartment (where Petro now lives after being kicked out by his wife) as a slave hands over a new hand to Petro. Petro takes down the sign.

Anacrites, who is rather annoyed at being muscled out of his stolen case, sends four men to beat up Falco and Petro. They defeat the bruisers easily and trail them back to Anacrites. Soon afterwards, Julius Frontinus finds and gives over a new hand. It looks the same as the other hands but this one has a wedding ring with two names inscribed (Asinia and Caius). They track down Caius Cicurrus, the widower of Asinia. He is innocent and is greatly grieving for his lost wife. Petro's wife dumped him after he took up with Balbina Milvia from Time to Depart. Milvia's husband Florius sends men to beat up Falco and Petro. Falco, with the help of his trainer Glaucus and Glaucus's trainees, beats off his attackers but Petro has no such help and is heavily injured. Milvia comes to Falco asking him to help her, as she fears that her mother, who has vanished, has been taken by the killer. Falco finds Cornella Flaccida at a new apartment. He goes out to the country but finds no suspects. After continuous reconnaissance he has two problems: First, Claudia Rufina, the heiress from A Dying Light In Corduba and the new fiancee to Helena's brother Aelianus, has vanished, and second, a slave called Thurius has been identified as the murderer. Falco goes out to rescue Claudia and apprehend Thurius. He captures Thurius and finds his lair and his victim. He finds that it's not Claudia, it's Milvia's mother, who vanished again. Unlike Claudia, however, no one liked her enough to send out a search party. Claudia is later found to have eloped with Helena's other brother Justinus, an act that has disastrous consequences. The book ends with Falco telling Petro his wife went out with another man, and later receiving a visit from Anacrites.

Characters in Three Hands in the Fountain

Friends and family

Suspects, victims and others

Major themes

Allusions/references to actual history, geography and current science

Release details

Related Research Articles

Marcus Didius Falco is the fictional central character and narrator in a series of historical mystery crime novels by Lindsey Davis. Using the concepts of modern detective stories, the novels portray the world of the Roman Empire under Vespasian. The tone is arch and satirical, but the historical setting is largely accurate.

<i>Time to Depart</i> book by Lindsey Davis

Time to Depart is a 1995 historical mystery crime novel by Lindsey Davis and the seventh book of the Marcus Didius Falco Mysteries series. Set in Rome during AD 72, the novel stars Marcus Didius Falco, an informer and imperial agent. The title refers to the law which stated that no Roman citizen who had been sentenced to death might be arrested, even after the verdict, until he has been given time to depart, the idea being that for a Roman citizen to choose exile outside the boundaries of the Empire would have been a fate worse than death itself.

<i>The Iron Hand of Mars</i> book by Lindsey Davis

The Iron Hand of Mars is a 1992 historical mystery crime novel by Lindsey Davis and the fourth book of the Marcus Didius Falco Mysteries series. Set in Rome and Germania during AD 71, the novel stars Marcus Didius Falco, informer and imperial agent. The iron in the title refers to the standard, shaped like a giant hand made of iron, which Falco is required to deliver to the imperial legions in Germany.

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<i>A Dying Light in Corduba</i> book by Lindsey Davis

A Dying Light in Corduba is a 1996 historical mystery crime novel by Lindsey Davis and the eighth book of the Marcus Didius Falco Mysteries series. Set in Rome and Imperial Spain during the spring and summer of AD 73, the novel stars Marcus Didius Falco, informer and imperial agent. The title refers to the setting of much of the action, Corduba, as well as to the olive oil which features heavily in the plot, one use of which is for lamp oil.

<i>Shadows in Bronze</i> book by Lindsey Davis

Shadows in Bronze is a 1990 historical mystery crime novel by Lindsey Davis and the second book of the Marcus Didius Falco Mysteries series. Set in Rome, southern Italy, and the Bay of Neapolis during AD 71, just after the year of the four emperors, the novel stars Marcus Didius Falco, informer and imperial agent. The bronze of the title is a statue of a young Helena Justina, Falco's romantic interest.

<i>Poseidons Gold</i> book by Lindsey Davis

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<i>Last Act in Palmyra</i> book by Lindsey Davis

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<i>A Body in the Bath House</i> book by Lindsey Davis

A Body in the Bath House is a 2001 historical mystery crime novel by Lindsey Davis and the 13th book of the Marcus Didius Falco Mysteries series. Set in Rome and Britannia in AD 75, the novel stars Marcus Didius Falco, informer and imperial agent. The title refers to the discovery of a corpse hidden beneath the floor of one bath house and a murder which takes place in another. American editions spell "bathhouse" in the title as one word.

<i>Venus in Copper</i> book by Lindsey Davis

Venus in Copper is a 1991 historical mystery crime novel by Lindsey Davis and the third book of the Marcus Didius Falco Mysteries series. Set in Rome during AD 71, just after the year of the four emperors, the novel stars Marcus Didius Falco, informer and imperial agent. The copper of the title refers to a simple copper signet ring featuring a portrait of Venus, worn by the suspect Severina Zotica. That Venus was the goddess of love hints at the motives for some of the murders perpetrated by the suspect: revenge out of unrequited love.

<i>Two for the Lions</i> book

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<i>The Jupiter Myth</i> book by Lindsey Davis

The Jupiter Myth is a 2002 historical mystery crime novel by Lindsey Davis and the 14th book of the Marcus Didius Falco Mysteries series. Set in Londinium, Britannia in August AD 75, the novel stars Marcus Didius Falco, informer and imperial agent. The title refers to the use of Jupiter-related mythology by the crime syndicate to identify businesses associated with them.

<i>One Virgin Too Many</i> book by Lindsey Davis

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<i>Ode to a Banker</i> book by Lindsey Davis

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<i>The Accusers</i> book by Lindsey Davis

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<i>Scandal Takes a Holiday</i> book by Lindsey Davis

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<i>Saturnalia</i> (Davis novel) 2007 book by Lindsey Davis

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<i>Enemies at Home</i> book by Lindsey Davis

Enemies at Home is a 2014 historical mystery crime novel by Lindsey Davis and the second book of the Flavia Alba Mysteries series. Set in Ancient Rome beginning in June AD 89, two months after the events of The Ides of April (2013), the novel stars Flavia Albia, the British-born adopted daughter of Marcus Didius Falco. Albia, a widow, works as a "delatrix" in ancient Rome, like Falco. The book's cover bears an image of two silver cups, one toppled, and a broken rope. It carries the strapline: "A Flavia Albia Novel".

References