A brilliantly effective return to straight detection for Gordianus the Finder (Catilina's Riddle, 1993, etc.), who now turns away his old teacher, Dio of Alexandria--the Egyptian ambassador who fears assassination by hirelings of the king, whose reign over Egypt he's come to Rome to protest--only to find on his return to Rome that Dio was murdered the very night he left Gordianus' house. Against a turbulent background of political conspiracy and sexual debauchery, Gordianus agrees to help Clodia Pulcher (better known to later generations as Catullus' Lesbia), the sister of rabble-rousing populist tribune Publius Clodius, gather evidence against Gordianus' neighbor, high-living prosecutor Marcus Caelius. But Caelius is defended by Gordianus' wily old employer Marcus Tullius Cicero, and, as Gordianus himself prophetically says, "Many things may happen in a trial where Cicero is one of the advocates, but the emergence of the truth is seldom one of them." In a spellbinding real-life oration, Cicero turns the trial into an inquest on Clodia's scandalously public private life, and Gordianus, who keeps finding startling new twists in the evidence everyone else is ignoring, is left until after the trial to surmise the truth at last. The remarkably vivid and finely etched historical background at once roots the characters firmly in their time and brings them alive for our own--in this finest flower yet of Saylor's admirable Roma sub Rosa series.