Author(s): Lindsey Davis
In the high summer of 77 AD, Roman informer Marcus Didius Falco is beset by personal problems. Newly bereaved and facing unexpected upheavals in his life, it is a relief for him to consider someone else's misfortunes. A middle-aged couple who supplied statues to his father, Geminus, have disappeared in mysterious circumstances. They had an old feud with a bunch of notorious freedmen, the Claudii, who live rough in the pestilential Pontine Marshes, terrorising the neighbourhood. When a mutilated corpse turns up near Rome, Falco and his vigiles friend Petronius investigate, even though it means travelling in the dread marshes. But just as they are making progress, the Chief Spy, Anacrites, snatches their case away from them. As his rivalry with Falco escalates, he makes false overtures of friendship, but fails to cover up the fact 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 when did that 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...
The 20th book in the bestselling Falco detective series.
Lindsey Davis began writing about the Romans with The Course of Honour, which tells the real-life love story of the Emperor Vespasian and Antonia Caenis. Her bestselling mystery series features laid-back First Century Roman detective Marcus Didius Falco and his partner Helena Justina, plus friends, relations, pets and bitter enemy the Chief Spy. She has also written Rebels and Traitors, a serious novel on an epic scale, set in the English Civil War and Commonwealth. Her books are translated into many languages, recorded for audio and serialised on BBC Radio 4. She has won the CWA Historical Dagger, the Dagger in the Library, and a Sherlock for Falco as Best Detective. She has been Honorary President of the Classical Association and is a past Chair of the Crimewriters' Association. In 2009 she was awarded the Premio de Honor de Novela Historica by the Spanish City of Zaragoza, for her career as a historical novelist.