The disappearance of a Vestal Virgin is cause for alarm.
The Vestal Virgin Audelia has retired with a large dowry and the announcement of her wedding is to be a feature of a lavish celebration of the Emperor’s birthday in Glevum. When her carriage arrives empty, freeman sleuth Libertus, who has ventured to town for the celebration, is called upon by his patron Marcus to find out what happened to her. Her wealthy bridegroom Publius has come all the way from Rome to claim her and her uncle by marriage, Lavinius, is beside himself with rage. Libertus soon discovers that he must also look into the disappearance of Audelia’s cousin Lavinia, who was on her way to become a novice Vestal Virgin. The two met at a private home that takes in guests and somewhere on their journey they both vanished. It is suspected they may have been taken by Druids as revenge or for ransom until the vestals body is found minus head and hands crammed into a trunk in her carriage. As Libertus roams the country looking for answers, he becomes involved in a dangerous cover-up that will require all his skills to escape with a whole skin.
Rowe’s Roman Britain mysteries (Requiem for a Slave, 2010, etc.) feature complex puzzles intertwined with historical detail; her latest offers some clever twists sure to please.