Ray plunges right into the middle of political intrigue in Nero's Rome but there's no culture lag at all. When Senator Caius Pomponius is found murdered in his bed, Hylas, his secretary, will take the blame along with the rest of the family slaves unless the real killer can be found. The motives of Hylas' friend and advocate, Camillus Rufus, are hard to fathom. He pursues justice even though he has good reason to believe that his wife, Pomponius' daughter, is less innocent than she seems. But his detective work is above reproach and the period appointments--from the floor plan of the Pomponius house to Hylas' Stoic philosophy--are unobtrusively integrated into the complex solution. Even Camillus' interview with Nero himself comes off without embarrassment. Like The Voice of Apollo, this rests on a solid bedrock of research; all it asks of the reader is a bent for cool-headed detection.