Ruso, a Roman army medic living a life of bucolic domesticity with the family of his British wife, receives a desperate plea from a friend. This friend, fellow medic Valens, has been accused of the murder of his own wife, who was found stabbed to death and floating in the sacred waters of Aquae Sulis (Bath, England). With no authority to investigate, and not certain of his own friend’s innocence, Ruso must sort out the truth, all the while grappling with hostile officials, a grieving family, and unhelpful priests. If not Valens, who killed the woman? Her lover, a local priestess, or some other looming unknown killer? Valens’s life and the future prosperity of Aquae Sulis are at stake.
This is Downie’s eighth installment in her wonderful Medicus series. It has all the twists and turns we would expect from a top-notch murder mystery, all while nestled deep into the world at the fringes of Imperial Rome. Though not needed to enjoy this novel, I’d recommend reading the first books—they’re worth it. Recommended.