In ancient Rome, politics makes strange bedfellows—and lethal enemies in Davis' (Pandora’s Boy, 2018, etc.) latest.
It's the year 89. Emperor Domitian, a former general, is big on ceremony, particularly when it honors him. Seasoned investigator (and droll narrator) Flavia Albia enters his service with eyes wide open. To celebrate the return of the emperor from his military campaigns, not one but two celebrations known as Triumphs are planned, but the project manager, the hapless Gabinus, slows their progress when he plunges inconveniently from the Tarpeian Rock. His death might have been ruled a suicide if there hadn’t been a witness. So Flavia is nudged into discreetly finding out whether Gabinus was pushed. The timing is far from ideal, for Flavia should be tending her husband, Manlius Faustus, who’s been struggling to run his construction company ever since he was struck by lightning. Elderly witness Valeria Dillia insists that she saw a tussle but is hazy on other details and doesn’t want to testify under oath. Her tentative, perhaps unreliable evidence forces Flavia to delve uncomfortably deeper, questioning, among others, the renowned augur Larth and Gabinus’ meek deputy, Egnatius. A strange additional theory of the crime involves the Sacred Geese of Juno, whose aggression may have pushed Gabinus off the Rock, because you never know. Flavia’s investigation moves slowly. As she uncovers surprising connections, she finds herself uncomfortably shadowed by unsavory individuals with sinister agendas.
The abundant charm of the heroine and the heavily detailed historical background will hook readers and keep them hooked.