I was the new boy, so they saddled me with the worst jobs. Rome, AD 71. Against his better judgement, 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.
The idyllic seaside location further complicates his seemingly 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.