The next gripping Ancient Roman mystery in the bestselling Flavia Albia series.
A tragic accident . . . or was it?
Emperor Domitian has been awarded (or rather, has demanded) yet another Triumph to celebrate two so-called victories. Preparations are going smoothly until one of the men overseeing arrangements for the celebration accidentally falls to his death from a cliff on the symbolic Capitoline Hill.
But Flavia Albia suspects there's more to the incident than meets the eye, as there are plenty of people who would have been delighted to be rid of the overseer. He was an abusive swine who couldn't organise a booze-up in a winery and was caught up in a number of scams, including one surrounding the supply of imperial purple dye and a family of shellfish-boilers.
As Flavia finds herself drawn into a theatrical world of carnival floats, musicians, incense and sacrificial beasts, can she see to the heart of the matter and catch those responsible for the unpopular man's untimely death?
Praise for Lindsey Davis and the Flavia Albia series
'Lindsey Davis has seen off all her competitors to become the unassailable market leader in the 'crime in Ancient Rome' genre . . . Davis's squalid, vibrant Rome is as pleasurable as ever' - Guardian
'Davis's prose is a lively joy, and Flavia's Rome is sinister and gloriously real' - The Times on Sunday
'For fans of crime fiction set in the ancient world, this one is not to be missed' - Booklist
'Davis's books crackle with wit and knowledge . . . She has the happy knack of making the reader feel entirely immersed in Rome' - The Times
An inauspicious death on the eve of Emperor Domitian's planned return to Rome in 89 C.E. sets the stage for Davis's superior seventh outing for informer Flavia Alba (after 2018's Pandora's Boy). The powers that be fear that the capricious Domitian will lash out, violently, after the possibly unnatural death of Gabinus, a worker helping to prepare for the imperial triumph to celebrate the emperor's recent military victory in the east. Gabinus apparently jumped to his death from the top of the Tarpeian Rock. But the initial consensus that he was a suicide is shattered by a witness who insists that a second person was near Gabinus at the time. When the question of what actually happened falls to Roman official Tiberius Manlius Faustus, he passes the inquiry on to his wife, Flavia, who finds no shortage of people who wished the dead man ill. Davis does her usual brilliant job of integrating the history of the period, warts and all (Domitian's ostensible victory was actually the result of his paying off the enemy's leaders), with a fast-paced and fair whodunit. This entry reinforces her place at the top of the historical mystery pack.