Something’s coming, something big… and it’s Domitian’s double Triumph over the Chatti and Dacians – or, in the absence of prisoners and booty, borrowed vases and actors impersonating miserable foreigners. Everything is held up while the actors have time to grow their beards. All Rome has been taken over by this colourful festival, though Our Master’s day may be blighted because a man has fallen to his death from a revered religious site: did he fall, or was he pushed – and will it affect the omens? A determined witness knows the answer, or thinks she does. Her eyesight may not be too good, but she refuses to shut up…
Albia has already said that one woman with a note tablet could organise the triumph, and she agrees to start asking sensible questions to save the Emperor’s big day from ruin; it quickly becomes obvious that the victim was hated by everyone who knew him. Her suspects list will be long, and it won’t only be the crime that has a nasty whiff; some people involved smell terrible. At least investigating on the Capitol brings her back into contact with those old friends we have all missed so much: Juno’s Sacred Geese. But when a second death takes place on the Tarpeian Rock, it is clear that a dangerous killer is at large. Albia promises Tiberius she won’t go after the man alone – but can she keep her promise???
Davis brings it all to fascinating life in her squalid, sinister, vibrant, gloriously and sometimes horrifyingly, realistic ancient Rome. As always, her story positively sparkles with historical knowledge and its galloping narrative is carried along by pointed and cynical wit. CrimeReview …
Anyone having read the Marcus Didius Falco mysteries will appreciate the tone of this series. For smart-mouthed retorts and sharp asides, Flavia Albia is a chip off the old Roman block. Her descriptions of various politicians, townsfolks, and even members of her own family, as well as the city of Rome itself are acidly hilarious. New York Journal of Books
Author Lindsey Davis balances grit and frivolity with ease. Flavia feels like the love child of Philip Marlowe and Carrie Bradshaw—she’s on the case, observing and reporting with care, but keeps a running line of saucy commentary on everyone throughout… The story builds with numerous twists toward a thrilling conclusion, but much of the pleasure comes from the deep, realistic world Davis has created and the people who inhabit it. Bookpage (USA)
Davis does her usual brilliant job of integrating the history of the period, warts and all, with a fast-paced and fair whodunit. This entry reinforces her place at the top of the historical mystery pack. Publishers Weekly Books of the Week
It’s up to Flavia to sort out who did what, but it’s the delicious details that are the real appeal here. Only Davis could somehow ace the insertion of the anachronistic expression “pimping his ride” into a narrative about the splendors of ancient times. Booklist