Falco attempts networking to boost his career. A disastrous night ends with a hangover and murder; he doesn’t achieve even a smile from the dancing girl, then he finds himself forced to take responsibility for his desperately injured enemy, the Chief Spy Anacrites. Mere weeks before Helena is due to give birth, Falco and she set off to unravel an oily conspiracy in southern Spain. Lying in wait are tycoons with low motives, murderous women in disguise, and a slippery trail laid by the Roman equivalent of that bureaucratic nightmare, the Admin Trainee; he knows nothing, thinks he can do everything, and wants something more than is good for the Empire. Falco believes the power of the privileged may be impossible to thwart – and for devious commercial motives, even the Emperor may not welcome his attempt. Will the lamps dim and the scented bath oil run out in Rome? And will Falco keep his promise to be with Helena at the dangerous moment when their baby is born?
Research Note: Thanks to Ginny, excellent designer of this Website, for having the babies and taking notes at the time!
The cast of characters is as various, corrupt, nasty and gnarled as the best of Dickens, described with a similar scope and loving attention – Mail on Sunday
Davis delivers another fast-moving narrative that makes Ancient Rome feel as real as the streets of New York or LA – Publishers Weekly
As usual in this superb series, excellent detail about the period and a cast of eccentric characters mix with a suspenseful plot – The Rue Morgue
‘I could have made friends with Valentinus last night at the dinner, if I had only realized. Then maybe if we had rolled out of the Palace together like cronies, events might have turned out differently for the freelance.’
Chosen by readers, Rosina and George Harter
“Olive Oil and plenty of it!” I cried. Adding thoughtfully, “And warm it slightly, please.”
Chosen by reader, Helene Ilg