This is the 20th book in the Marcus Didius Falco series. See the review for Alexandria for details. This books opens with the birth of Helena and Falco’s third child, a son, who dies at birth. On the same day, Falco’s father, an auctioneer and scoundrel, dies, leaving Falco, as the surviving son, a large inheritance and business interests. Falco, who is conflicted about owing slaves, now inherits a houseful of slaves. After the funeral for both Falco’s son and father, Falco gets involved with a series of murders in a swampy area of Italy. The speculation is that the family behind the murders (who are freed Imperial slaves) is being protected by the palace but no one knows who the protector is. Falco is determined to get to the bottom of the murders. This book has more violence than some other books. Anacrites, Falco’s arch-enemy and the “Chief Spy” for the emperor, returns to block Falco’s investigations. Flavia Albia, Falco’s adopted daughter, from Britain, becomes involved in the investigation and decides to become an informer, thus setting the stage for a series beginning with The Ides of April.
Review Submitted by: Rosalind Woolbright
Rating: Highly Recommended