Release Date: 08/09/12
Rome: September, 96 AD. When the body of Sextus Verpa, informer and libertine, is found stabbed to death in his bedroom, there is no way in or out. The method and motive remains a mystery, so suspicion falls on his slaves. Pliny, a young senator, is ordered by Emperor Domitian to investigate. But the Roman Games have begun and for the next fifteen days the law courts are in recess. If Pliny can't identify the murderer in that time, Verpa's entire slave household will be burned alive in the arena. Along with the poet Martial, Pliny's investigation unravels a plot involving Egyptian cultists and a missing horoscope that will lead him through the tenements and brothels of Rome's most decadent age, and finally to the palace itself, where no one is safe from the paranoid Emperor. As the deadline approaches, Pliny struggles with the painful dilemma of a good man forced to serve a brutal regime - a regime implicated in conspiracy that touches the heart of Imperial Rome.
I love a story set during the turbulent times in Ancient Rome. So this title from Bruce really hit the spot as Pliny the Younger is placed in a situation between the deep blue sea and the devil (in this case the Emperor Dominitan.) Whilst many books see the hero being a man of action or brawn, what makes this one different is that Pliny is a man of thought and as such is placed in danger almost from the start with a career maker or breaker handed down during the Roman Games.
The book has some great pace, is wonderfully different from a great many out there and when you add to the mix an author who clearly loves the time to which he writes alongside cracking prose and all in this debut makes this author one to watch. I really can’t wait to get Bruce’s next title.