cover image A Capitol Death

A Capitol Death

Lindsey Davis. Minotaur, $27.99 (320p) ISBN 978-1-250-15270-1

An inauspicious death on the eve of Emperor Domitian’s planned return to Rome in 89 C.E. sets the stage for Davis’s superior seventh outing for informer Flavia Alba (after 2018’s Pandora’s Boy). The powers that be fear that the capricious Domitian will lash out, violently, after the possibly unnatural death of Gabinus, a worker helping to prepare for the imperial triumph to celebrate the emperor’s recent military victory in the east. Gabinus apparently jumped to his death from the top of the Tarpeian Rock. But the initial consensus that he was a suicide is shattered by a witness who insists that a second person was near Gabinus at the time. When the question of what actually happened falls to Roman official Tiberius Manlius Faustus, he passes the inquiry on to his wife, Flavia, who finds no shortage of people who wished the dead man ill. Davis does her usual brilliant job of integrating the history of the period, warts and all (Domitian’s ostensible victory was actually the result of his paying off the enemy’s leaders), with a fast-paced and fair whodunit. This entry reinforces her place at the top of the historical mystery pack. (July)[em] [/em]