Old Father Tiburinus rolls down from the Apennines, laden with silt and much worse things. Albia and Tiberius spot that a dredger has pulled a corpse out of the river, a corpse that bears evidence of foul play, although that fails to excite the authorities. A boatload of tourists of a well-heeled type has come and gone, leaving a mystery behind; it happens at a crucial time in the ever-warring gangster community. Albia will have to consider not only Rome’s endemic violence but the failings of the various public bodies who are supposed to tackle crime and threats to the community. Forced to remember her own origins in Britain, she finds herself facing a dark crisis of her own. Will she have the right contacts to support her dogged quest for justice, and as she resists the traditions of a paternalist society, will she acknowledge the people who love her and allow them to help?
There are places we know, people we would rather not remember, and a very elaborate joke about crime writing.