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Book Five in the Marcus Didus Falco Series
Description There comes a time when every smart detective needs to get out of town, even in A.D. 72. With money and woman troubles mounting in Rome, Falco takes on two cases that will send him east. One is to track down a runaway circus musician, a beauty named Sophrona. The other is an undercover mission for the Emperor's chief spy, a slimy fellow called Anacrites. The woman causing Falco's heart trouble, Helena Justina, a senator's daughter, is coming along for the trip. She can't live with the plebeian Falco, who is below her in rank. But she can't live without him, either. Ergo they're both headed for Petra - and a nasty case of murder. Once in this trading center south of Syria, they stumble upon a dead Roman playwright and are in the wrong place at the right time to take the blame. They escape by joining the dead man's traveling theater group. Unfortunately, Falco compounds the original crime with one of his own - he accepts a job writing for the troupe. Acting turns out to be a very risky business on the eastern edges of the Empire. The desert is filled with scorpions and snakes as well as a killer who is about to add another victim to the cast. Now as a deadly drama is played out in full costume, complete with clowns, Falco needs to spot the culprit...and stop a final act that can cost a tough Roman his self-respect, his job, and not least of all, his and Helena's lives.