Rome. AD 70. Private eye Marcus Didius Falco knows his way around the eternal city. He can handle the muggers, the police and most of the girls. But one fresh sixteen-year-old, Sosia Camillina, finds him a case no Roman should be getting his nose into. Some friends, Romans and countrymen are doing a highly profitable, if highly illegal, trade in silver ingots or pigs. For Falco it's the start of a murderous trail that leads far beyond the seven hills.
Although I do read a lot of historical mysteries the Roman period is not one I often find in the stories I read. That is one of the reasons I was curious about this one but, I think, also one of the reasons why it took me so long to get into the story.
The plot revolves around silver ingots (the silver pigs the title refers too) and who has been trading them illegally. However I have to say I was much more interested in Didius Falco and the characters he meets and that surround him than the mystery itself of who was trading them.
In the beginning of the story Falco meets a young girl, Sosia Camilina. When she is killed he vows to find who did it and discovers that her death is related with the ingots. Sosia belonged to a noble and powerful family and Falco ends up being hired by her uncle to discover what is going on. That will take him to Britain where he meets Sosia Camilina's cousin, Helena Justina, and unfortunately for him to work as a slave in the mines.
Falco and Helena hate each other at first sight but that will eventually evolve to another king of relationship. I did like both of them immensely but especially Helena, she was tough, sharp-tongued and fun. She and Falco will eventually work together and will find out who did kill Sosia Camilina but also who is behind a plot against Emperor Vespasian.
Falco moves easily between the lower ranks of society and the more powerful families thus giving us interesting observations of the roman society. He also has an interesting family and his mom and niece are added as colourful secondary characters.
An interesting, and sometimes funny read that is worth the time spent with it.