The 13th novel featuring sleuth Marcus Didius Falco explores the fervor of home improvement that's sweeping the Roman Empire and Falco's own household, specifically the bathhouse - where a body turns up.
Some things never change. With his new villa, Falco also gets a timeless headache: building contractors. After the departure of two shady plasterers, a rank odor in the bathhouse soon leads to the discovery of a corpse under the mosaic floor. Should Falco follow the culprits to remote Britannica? Despite the British weather (damp), the inhabitants (barbarians), and the wine (second-rate), Falco takes his whole family and goes. In veritas, Falco has another, secret reason for this exodus - his sister Maia has rejected the affection of a powerful Roman official, who vows brutal revenge. Now to protect those he loves, Falco must outrun an imperial enemy with a very long - and very deadly - reach.