The Emperor’s Silver
The Roman Empire in 273 AD. The Palmyrans have been defeated, but there is trouble in Egypt, and the Empire faces financial ruin with the debasement of its coinage. The Emperor Aurelian had set up mints to manufacture the coins in the East and, in particular, one at Tripoli. It is suspected that somewhere in the area is a gang making counterfeit coins, and the Imperial Agent, Cassius Corbulo, is sent to investigate. He tracks down the criminals at Berytus (modern-day Beirut) and, together with his servant, Simo, and bodyguard, Indavara, sets about finding the centre of operations and bringing the gang to justice.
Based on fact, this was a fascinating story. I had not met either the author or these characters before but will certainly look out for them again. The characterisation is excellent and the pace good, although, to be fair, I did find it a little slow to begin with. Once things really began to happen, it was a book I simply could not put down, and the final sentences took me completely by surprise.
This would appear to be the fifth book in the Agent of Rome series, and I look forward to catching up on the earlier ones. Recommended.