Rome, A.D. 180. A beautiful client asks well-connected lawyer Livinius Severus--sensitive to the unsavory reputation of the class of informers outlawed as delatores but wanting to honor the recommendation of Cinna Catalus--to follow her husband. But before Livinius has even notified her that he'll take the case, both the woman and her husband (not her husband after all, it turns out) are dead, and soon members of the Stoic circle of Cinna, advisor to Emperor Marcus Aurelius, begin losing their heads. Livinius looks past the lovingly described nocturnal perversions he keeps running into and the rumors of a Sophist purge of rival philosophers to the inevitable plot against the emperor, but it's all downhill from there, as you keep waiting for developments that never develop. An evocative and elegantly written debut, but even Livinius apologizes for the plot. He might prefer Steven W. Sayler's Roman Blood (see below) to his own book.