This is the first book in the new (sub)series by Lindsey Davis, which features Flavia Albia, daughter of Falco (the protagonist of the main Falco series by Davis). I picked up the second book in this Flavia Albia series, Enemies at Home, and read it before I went back and read this one. Oddly enough, I think if I had read this first book in the series previous to reading the second one, I may well not have gone on to read any more, because I did not enjoy this first book quite as much as I enjoyed the second.
In the first half of the book, Flavia Albia comes across as someone with a chip on her shoulder as big as the Colosseum, and it became rather irritating after a while, when she kept dismissing everyone she came across as either beneath her notice or a lying hypocrite. Happily, the second half of the book came across much better; the plot of the story picked up, and the characters as a whole in the story became much more interesting.
Flavia Albia is an informer in Rome in the reign of Domitian, a rather unpredictable emperor on whose wrong side it was not wise to get; and the life of an informer could be rather dangerous, let alone for a woman. Luckily Flavia Albia had a good upbringing with her loyal and loving family after a rocky start in life, and she is no ordinary shrinking Roman matron. When she is asked to investigate the sudden death of one of her clients, she at first dismisses the notion that the death was anything but natural. But delving further into the underworld of Rome, she finds a number of apparently unlinked but sudden deaths. Could they have any relation to the death of her client, and what could their links be?
This story certainly picked up in the second half, and got better as it went along. On the strength of my enjoyment of the second book in the series, I will most definitely look out for the third book. Hopefully Flavia Albia continues to find more mysteries in the world of Rome in the first century AD.