In the high summer of AD 77, laid-back detective Marcus Didius Falco is called upon to investigate the mysterious disappearance of a middle-aged couple who supplied statues to Falco's father, Geminus. The Claudii, nptorious freedmen who live rough in the pestilential Pontine Marshes, are the prime suspects. Falco, beset by personal problems, finds it a relief to consider someone else's misfortunes.
When a mutilated corpse turns up near Rome, Falco and his vigiles friend Petronius investigate, only for the Chief Spy, Anacrites, to snatch their case away from them just as they are making progress.As his rivalry with Falco escalates, it emerges that the violent Claudii have acquired corrupt protection at the highest level. Making further enquiries after they have been warned off can only be dangerous - but will this stop Falco and Petronius?
Egged on by the slippery bureaucrats who hate Anacrites, the dogged friends dig deeper while a psychotic killer keeps taking more victims, and the shocking truth creeps closer and closer to home...
"Davis is a prolific and popular writer ... Her research has been assiduous and detailed, her commitment to the subject is impressive, and the background detail is often eye-opening" Hilary Mantel Observer
Lindsey Davis has written over twenty historical novels, beginning with The Course of Honour. Her bestselling mystery series features laid-back First Century detective Marcus Didius Falco and his partner Helena Justina, plus friends, relations, pets and bitter enemy the Chief Spy. After an English degree at Oxford University Lindsey joined the Civil Service, but became a professional author in 1989. Her books are translated into many languages and have been dramatized on BBC Radio 4. Her many prizes include the Premio Colosseo, awarded by the Mayor of Rome 'for enhancing the image of Rome', the Sherlock award for Falco as Best Comic Detective and the Crimewriters' Association Cartier Diamond Dagger for lifetime achievement. She was born in Birmingham but now lives in Greenwich, London.
"Davis is a prolific and popular writer . Her research has been assiduous and detailed, her commitment to the subject is impressive, and the background detail is often eye-opening" -- Hilary Mantel Observer "One of the best of the current writers in this field" -- Donna Leon The Times "Surely the best historical detective in the business" -- Mike Ripley Daily Telegraph "The whole thing is splendid. It has everything: mystery, pace wit, fascinating scholarship . she brings imperial Rome to life" -- Ellis Peters