Flavia Albia, originally from Britain, is the adopted daughter of Marcus Didius Falco, a well-known detective in ancient Rome. When a rotting corpse is discovered in a strongbox, to be auctioned in Rome by the family’s auction house, Flavia Albia considers it her duty to find out who the dead man is. This, together with the fact that elections are to take place for various officials for high office, gives our heroine plenty to do and think about, especially when a second body is later discovered to have been put in the same strongbox. The plot twists and turns, and the search for the identity of the original dead man lead to many family secrets coming out into the open.
Lindsey Davis uses a style of narrative which combines Ancient Rome with modern English and strangely, it works well. She is also adept at slipping in odd little facts, such as the origin of the term ‘candidate’ in elections, which all give added colour to the story. However, I did find the pace rather slow and waited a long time for ‘something to happen’ which would move the story on. I have read several of this author’s original Falco series and enjoyed them, but this one did not enthrall me and would not encourage me to read more in this particular series. Of course, fans of Lindsey Davis are free to disagree.