After the extreme violence of Desperate Undertakings, here is a story where nobody seems to have died except one man, forty years ago, at a reasonable age, from catching a cold. Everyone loved him, it is said. He left a will.
Quintus broke in: ‘And where is the will going to be? First, it is left lying around on a side table. Gathers mice droppings for a year or two, has wine spilled on it. Once all the bequests have been doled out and after niggly Uncle Pedanticus has wittered off into oblivion, then some of the scroll is torn up for laundry lists while another part acquires the sketch of a new toolshed. Finally the decrepit thing becomes kindling for a religious rite, roasting a sacrificial piglet on a portable altar. So, goodbye, will!’
Say no more. The joke of this plot is that it is impossible to summarise. And the will has gone missing.
Will anyone actually be murdered? Wait and see.
All teeming Roman life is here with its smells, entrenched snobbery (especially when it comes to women and slaves) and superstitions described by a wise-cracking heroine. A feast, to be savoured with a cup, or two, of violet wine. Mike Ripley in Shots.
It will be the rare reader indeed who does not get at least one unexpected chuckle per chapter. Bookpage