The struggle for control of the Roman Empire in 193 C.E. provides the backdrop for Rowe’s engrossing 16th mystery featuring British pavement maker Libertus (after 2015’s The Fateful Day). After the murder of Helvetius Pertinax, who succeeded the assassinated emperor Commodus, Dedius Julianus seizes power by bribing the Praetorian Guard. Julianus, however, must contend with three challengers to his rule. Meanwhile, Libertus’s long-time patron, Gloucester senior magistrate Marcus Aurelius Septimus, fears that his support of Pertinax will lead to reprisals against him and his family. After receiving an anonymous threat, Septimus turns to Libertus for help in getting his wife and children to safety and in thwarting the murderous intentions of his unknown enemy. Libertus soon learns that other city officials have received similar threats and that one has fallen victim to a poisoner. The craftsman must use all his ingenuity to keep Marcus’s loved ones from harm while simultaneously identifying a killer. The stakes for Rowe’s hero have never been higher in this suspenseful outing. (May)
Reviewed on: 02/29/2016 Release date: 06/01/2016 Genre: Fiction
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