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Nothing’s certain except death and taxes. Catching tax evaders for the Emperor Vespasian looks like a plum position for Marcus Didius Falco, who has teamed up with his old boss, Anacrites, the crotchety chief spy of Rome. Soon, however, Falco is bogged down in bureaucracy, stuck at his stylus, and longing for a good murder to investigate.
He gets one when someone kills Leonidas, the Empire’s official executioner. Feared by plebeians and citizens alike, Leonidas administered justice with a swift, sure blow. Then he ate the offender. Now this king of beasts lies stabbed to death in his cage.
Sniffing around for clues, Falco is soon led into the rowdy, decadent world of gladiators and bestiarii, fighters who specialize in contests against animals. Falco finds that it’s dark and dangerous in the tunnels under the arena-and even blacker…[more]
The fourteenth Falco novel is a tale of love, gangsters and female gladiators—including one from Falco’s own past.
Falco and his family are staying in London when Falco is summoned to the scene of a murder. The victim, Verovolcus, was a renegade with ties to Roman crime magnates operating in London, but he was also close to King Togidubnus. So when he is discovered stuffed head-first down a well, a tricky diplomatic situation develops that Falco must defuse, and which leads him into the seedy underbelly of London. There is a newly built amphitheatre in town, with female gladiators, but Falco soon realizes that the initially troublesome gladiators—including one from his own bachelor past—may just give him the edge he needs to solve Verovolcus’ murder, as the gangsters are pursued back to the Italian town of Ostia for a final showdown.
Can a tough detective have the sensibilities of a poet? When street-smart Marcus Didius Falco is coerced into a public reading of his satires, he couldn’t feel worse. Yet his scribbling is met with rousing applause…and an offer by Chrysippus, esteemed banker, patron of the arts, and scroll merchant, to publish his work.
Et tu, Brute! A euphoric Falco then discovers that Chrysippus expects to be paid for putting the budding author’s work on papyrus. Falco is no Horace, but he has his pride. His ensuing altercation with the publisher makes him a suspect when Chrysippus is found brutally murdered—a classic body in a library. Fortunately Falco has an alibi, and thanks to his friends in the Watch, he also lands the job as the homicide’s official investigator.
Murder, no matter how foul, is something Falco can handle even when he’s up to his stylus in outraged authors and crafty…[more]