Now it’s stippling and scumbling: fun with home makeovers – until the latest machinations of cast-off lover Anacrites pose a darker threat than normal. Falco and Helena take as many of their family as possible away from danger. Five years after they met in Britain, they go back there – to the fabulous royal palace at Fishbourne, its grand extension still on the drawing board and likely to remain there without careful management. Public Building projects never run smoothly, but few have as many hitches as this one. Two different architects jostling to take charge of the site don’t help – though that may be dealt with – and the place is awash with dodgy contractors.
From the odoriferous gift left behind by bath house supremos, Gloccus and Cotta, to the fresher corpse in the Great King’s opulent quarters (and the other body!) Falco faces one challenge after another, all the time auditing scams for Vespasian and trying to teach his grumbling assistants how to be of use to him. Will he ever get to London? (No, but then he doesn’t want to go!) A night out watching a dancer sounds excellent relaxation – but the dancer may be Perella, Anacrites’ murderous agent, the dive where she whirls her stuff is a dingy downtown bar full of fighting labourers, and even the artwork may turn nasty. Not the moment for toothache, especially with a dentist you don’t know.
This is the one with a favourite sweet character from the past – who has grown up!Reviews
‘She conjures up the ancient world with confidence, and a plot as interesting as the best of modern fiction’ The Times Literary Supplement
‘I was like the harassed foolish father in a Greek play. This was no milieu for a city informer. Next thing I would find myself buying pornographic oil lamps to leer at in the office and giving myself flatulence as I worried about inheritance tax.’
Chosen by reader, Helene Ilg