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Rome: September, 96 AD. When the body of Sextus Verpa, a notorious senatorial informer and libertine, is found stabbed to death in his bedroom, his slaves are suspected.
Pliny is ordered by the emperor Domitian to investigate. However, the Ludi Romani, the Roman Games, have just 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.
Pliny, a very respectable young senator and lawyer, teams up with Martial, a starving author of bawdy verses and denizen of the Roman demimonde. Pooling their respective talents, they unravel a plot that involves Jewish and Christian 'atheists,' exotic Egyptian cultists, and a missing horoscope that forecasts the emperor's death.
Their investigation leads them into the heart of the palace, where no one is safe from the paranoid emperor. As the deadline approaches, Pliny struggles with the painful dilemma of a good man who is forced to serve a brutal regime—a situation familiar in our own age as well.
The novel provides an intimate glimpse into the palaces and tenements, bedrooms and brothels of imperial Rome's most opulent and decadent age.
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Bruce MacBain holds a BA in Classics from the University of Chicago and a Ph.D. in Ancient History from the University of Pennsylvania. He has taught Greek and Roman history at Vanderbilt University and Boston University. His special interest is religion in the Roman Empire. He enjoys travelling and was one of the first Peace Corps Volunteers to serve in Borneo. He lives with his wife in Brookline, MA. This is his first novel.Review:
When Sextus Verpa, the emperor's number one informant, is murdered in his bedroom, Emperor Domitian wants the killer found and gives young, naive lawyer and senator Pliny the Younger 15 days to do the job. If he fails, Verpa's household slaves will be burned alive in the arena. MacBain, a scholar of ancient Greek and Roman history, leads the reader down the mean and dirty streets of Rome to find a conspiracy of hatred and greed that ends in an entanglement of diverse religious groups united by a mutual hatred of the emperor. VERDICT This debut is sure to appeal to fans of Steven Saylor and Lindsey Davis. -- Libray Journal
Macbain's debut novel convincingly re-creates everyday life in ancient Rome, weaving real and fictional characters with aplomb. -- Kirkus
The story is full of suspense with nice twists which keep the reader occupied. Roman History Books and More --Roman History Books and More
Bruce Macbain keeps his saga fresh with a strong look at the decadence at the end of the first century in which an ethical hero struggles to keep his morality and his head. The story line is fast-paced as the two opposite ins status and outlook sleuths unite following clues that are religious and political dangerous as separation of state denotes separation of one's head. This is an enjoyable whodunit due to the Roman background interwoven throughout the historical mystery. --Harriet Klausner
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Book Description Poisoned Pen Press 2011-03-29, 2011. Paperback. Condition: New. 1590587774 BRAND NEW! In Protective Shrinkwrap! A Glossy Paperback in NEW, pristine condition. We ship all orders with delivery confirmation!. Seller Inventory # PA2-050
Book Description Poisoned Pen Press, 2010. Paperback. Condition: New. Seller Inventory # DADAX1590587774
Book Description Poisoned Pen Press, 2011. Condition: New. book. Seller Inventory # M1590587774