Published Mar 2016
One warm June night in an apartment on one of ancient Rome’s famous seven hills, a newly-married couple are murdered in their bed.
Priceless silver has been stolen, so the killing of Aviola and Lucilia appears to be a robbery gone wrong. The local vigils, never renowned for competent police work, are unable to identify the thieves, so pass the blame onto the household slaves who have failed to save their owners’ lives. By law, all must be executed. The slaves flee, seeking asylum at the Temple of Ceres.
The local magistrate, Manlius Faustus, is charged with finding a way to sidestep the laws of sanctuary and bring the slaves to justice. He hires Flavia Albia, a private investigator he already admires for her tenacity and insight, and, perhaps, for other non-professional reasons as well, to investigate what really happened during the robbery and murders.
Relationships were far from harmonious in the Aviola household before the murders. As Albia starts unpicking the terrible events of that night, she is confronted with lies and delusions, and more deaths. Her investigations into the criminal underbelly of the Esquiline district will prove seriously dangerous to her and her family circle. But she’ll not abandon her pursuit of the truth until she knows enough to determine the fate of the slaves waiting in the Temple of Ceres.