One of the Roman novels from the bestselling historical fiction Falco series.
‘To find a drowned man head-first down a well was slightly unusual, exciting maybe.’
For Falco, a relaxed visit to Helena’s relatives in Britain turns serious at the scene of a downtown murder. The renegade henchman of Rome’s vital ally King Togidubnus has been stuffed head-first down a barroom well – leading to a tricky diplomatic situation which Falco must defuse. One murder leads to others. Londinium now has a forum and an amphitheatre; the town is a magnet for legitimate traders – and for criminals from Rome.
With his vigiles pal Petronius, Falco leads the hunt for gangsters who are intent on taking over. This will bring unwelcome encounters with faces from the past and grave threats to their present relationships. Danger and death lurk throughout their pursuit, all the way from the brand new wharves beside the River Thames to the familiar old haunts of organised crime back home in Italy.
Davis's 14th clever, witty adventure (after 2001's A Body in the Bathhouse) starring the suave Marcus Didius Falco, from Ancient Rome, finds the informer/investigator plying his talents on the mean and muddy streets of Londinium, Britannia, in A.D. 75. In fact, almost everything about the growing community is mean, from its dark and dingy bars to the sprawling wharves and warehouses. The discovery of a body jammed headfirst into a bar's well is enough to get Falco sent to the scene as an expert on unnatural death. Falco needs all his celebrated intelligence to survive the ensuing problems. Davis skillfully braids references to Britain's future into her story of its past without ever diminishing the thrust of Falco's adventures. And what adventures! The murder victim is a disgraced henchman of King Togidubnus, an important ally of Rome. Solving and avenging the death quickly is important to placate the king. Civil order is in disrepair, while the rapidly growing city is ripe pickings for the ambitious gangsters moving in from Rome, whom Falco and his friend Petronius, have battled before. An entourage that includes wife Helena, their two small children, his sister, Maia, and her four children gives Falco questionable help. This thoroughly entertaining addition can only burnish the luster of this fine series.