Rome, AD 71. Against his better judgement, Marcus Didius Falco secretly disposes of a decayed corpse for the Emperor Vespasian, then heads for the beautiful Bay of Naples with his best friend Petronius. He conveniently forgets to mention to his companion that this will be no holiday. They have been sent to investigate the murderous members of a failed coup, now sunning themselves in luxurious villas and on fancy yachts.
Nor does the idyllic seaside location help his doomed romance with Helena Justina. The deeper he probes, the more it seems Helena is inextricably connected to the elite plotters, in ways that the smitten Falco cannot bear to contemplate ...
No caveats for readers of Davis's second playful, well-plotted mystery featuring imperial agent Marcus Didius Falco and based in first century, C.E., Rome. Nero's successor Vespasian has squelched an early treasonous plot and assigned Falco to take care of loose ends, which include the body of the uncle of the high-born young widow Helena Justina, whom Falco met and courted stormily in Silver Pigs. Disguised as an idle vacationer in the company of his comrade and captain of the Aventine Watch, Petronius Longus and family, Falco travels south to Neapolis, Capreae and Pompeii (eight years before its destruction) where he uncovers and must thwart a new conspiracy involving the shipment of Egyptian grain to Rome and an unwitting Helena. Like a toga-clad McGee or Spenser, Falco has a modern sensibility that wears its ancient trappings comfortably, whether he's sneaking down a narrow Roman street or feasting sumptuously at a sunlit coastal villa. A rousing horserace in the Circus Maximus, balanced with a touching romantic resolution, rounds out this action-packed entertainment, enlivened by Davis's vivid characterization of both major and minor players, and his clear delight in--and easy authority with--the story's time and place.