The strength of Rowe's 12th mystery set in second-century Britain (after 2010's Requiem for a Slave) lies more in the well-researched history than the whodunit plot. While Longinus Flavus Libertus, a pavement maker and occasional sleuth, is attending the birthday celebration of Emperor Commodus in Glevum (ancient Gloucester), his patron, Marcus Septimus, summons him to track down a missing bride. Audelia, a former vestal virgin, was slated to marry Publius Martinus, one of the richest men in Rome, who'd come to Britannia for the wedding. Despite having next to nothing to go on (no one can describe Audelia, who usually wore a veil), Libertus has no choice but to accept Septimus's order to find the woman before word of her disappearance becomes public knowledge. The discovery of a mutilated corpse raises the stakes. The rich character of Libertus compensates for a somewhat disappointing ending. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 06/06/2011 Release date: 07/01/2011 Genre: Fiction
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