That noted local sleuth, freeman mosaic maker Libertus, must solve murders on his own doorstep.
Returning to his shop one day in 190 CE to meet the wealthy Quintus Severus, who’s commissioning a mosaic, Libertus discovers the strangled corpse of a simple pie seller in his workroom. Libertus’ slave Minimus, on loan from his powerful patron, has gone missing. When he arrives, Severus cancels his order, which he feels is cursed by the death. The doddering slave of a neighboring shopkeeper claims to have seen a green man, a description that puzzles Libertus. While Marcus is away, Libertus has his hands full with another commission and the planned ceremony for the birth of his grandchild. A turnip seller helps him deliver another mosaic before the customer hears about the bad omen of a death under his roof. But there’s a definite setback when the turnip seller turns up dead in Libertus’ shop. Once the doddering slave is slain, Libertus, realizing that he may have been the intended victim, must use all his skills to figure out who wants him dead.
The historical detail readers expect from Rowe’s Roman Britain adventures (Death at Pompeia’s Wedding, 2009, etc.) is complemented by a satisfyingly complex puzzle.