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'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
'For fans of crime fiction set in the ancient world, this one is not to be missed' - Booklist
Private investigator Flavia Albia is always drawn to an intriguing puzzle - even if it is put to her by her new husband's hostile ex-wife.
On the Quirinal Hill, a young girl named Clodia has died, apparently poisoned with a love potion. Only one person could have supplied such a thing: a local witch who goes by the name of Pandora, whose trade in herbal beauty products is hiding something far more sinister.
The supposedly sweet air of the Quirinal is masking the stench of loose morality, casual betrayal and even gangland conflict and, when a friend of her own is murdered, Albia determines to expose as much of this local sickness as she can - beginning with the truth about Clodia's death.
Praise for Lindsey Davis and the Flavia Albia series
'Davis's prose is a lively joy, and Flavia's Rome is sinister and gloriously real'
The Times on Sunday
'Davis's books crackle with wit and knowledge . . . She has the happy knack of making the reader feel entirely immersed in Rome'
In Davis's solid sixth novel set in ancient Rome and featuring informer Flavia Alba (after 2017's The Third Nero), her latest case comes from an unusual source: Laia Gratiana, the rich, snooty ex-wife of Flavia's new husband, Manlius Faustus. An adolescent girl, Clodia Volumnia, has been found dead in her bed, and her parents are at odds over the cause. Her father, a mediator, believes that Clodia was poisoned by a love potion that his mother-in-law procured from Pandora, an herbalist suspected of witchcraft. But Clodia's mother blames her husband for nixing a romance, leading Clodia to die of a broken heart. Though she loathes Laia, Flavia agrees to investigate, even as she must deal with her husband's baffling disappearance. Her digging, which steps on some powerful toes, reminds her of Rome's dirty underbelly: "Among the Imperial monuments, the big houses of reclusive tycoons, the memories of long-gone demagogues and colonial adventurers lurked every kind of corruption." Davis's close attention to detail, such as a reference to Emperor Domitian's proscription against sidewalk caf s, makes the past vivid.