Roman auditor Marcus Didius Falco (A Body in the Bathhouse, 2002, etc.) visits the bustling metropolis of London in its ancient version: muddy, provincial Londinium, a.d. 75.
Along with his wife, children, sister, nieces and nephews, nursemaid, and best friend, Falco is in Londinium visiting his wife Helena’s aunt and her uncle, who just happens to be procurator Gaius Flavius Hilaris, second in command of Britain. When a prominent Briton is drowned in a tavern well, Governor Frontinus sends Hilaris and Falco to investigate. What they find isn’t pretty: The dead man is Verovolcus, a British courtier close to King Togidubnus, supposedly exiled to Gaul. Now Falco must sort out a politically sensitive murder when he’d rather be planning his family’s return to Rome. Then his friend Petronius Longinus disappears. Falco, trolling seedy bars with Helena, stumbles onto the criminal underworld that attracted Verovolcus. He also discovers an old girlfriend, the spectacular female gladiator Chloris, who can do things with her toes that happily married Falco would rather not remember. While Falco fights off Chloris, she fights off mob control of her gladiatorial troupe and offers important information. Even if Helena can rescue Falco from Chloris, will he be able to rescue Petronius and Londinium from organized crime?
Primitive Londinium’s mean streets provide a salutatory new venue for Davis, even for readers who may not dote on Falco’s extended family as much as his author does.