Marcus Corvinus is wading his way through the family tax accounts when his snobbish major-domo Bathyllus informs him that he has an important visitor, a Roman senator, no less. He is informed by the senator, one Lucius Vitellius that he has been co-opted to do a job for the good of Rome, by no less a person than the Emperor Tiberius. Refusal is obviously not an option.
Rome is trying to re-instate Prince Phraates, a long time politcal hostage, as the rightful High King of Parthia and there has already been one attack on his life. It is up to Marcus to become familiar with the Parthian delegation, who are staying in Rome and use his skills to determine who of them would want to kill Phraates and why.
Between falling out with his chef, Meton and trying to convince his wife that there is no danger to himself, plus visiting half the wine shops in Rome, Marcus has his hands. Will he be able to pull this one off before someone else gets to Phraates . . .