Bell’s subpar sixth mystery featuring ancient Roman magistrate Pliny the Younger (after 2014’s The Eyes of Aurora) focuses on Pliny’s complex personal life. Pliny, who was once engaged to Livilla, has married her older sister, Livia, whose first husband died under suspicious circumstances. He is in love, however, with his servant, Aurora. Livia suspects that he’s being unfaithful to her, and Pliny feels compelled to arrange a sham marriage for Aurora to assuage Livia’s concerns. When his entire entourage visits one of his family villas on the shore of Lake Comum in the Alps, Pliny gets immersed in a murder mystery after skeletal remains are found in a wall that have signs of blunt force trauma. Fans of Bell’s better efforts such as The Blood of Caesar, in which Emperor Domitian asks Pliny to solve a murder with grave political implications, can hope for a return to form next time. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 02/13/2017 Release date: 04/01/2017 Genre: Fiction
During the Covid-19 crisis, Publishers Weekly is providing free digital access to our magazine, archive, and website. To receive the access to the latest issue delivered to your inbox free each week, enter your email below.