Pliny offers to help a woman whom his servant Aurora has befriended, but the investigation gets as complicated as his relationship with Aurora.
Albert Bell has a sure grasp of the unique perils of belonging to a socially prominent family during the rule of the Caesars, said John Maddox Roberts, author of the SPQR Mysteries (on Death in the Ashes, Plinys fourth casebook). One of those perils is Roman societys expectation of an advantageous marriage strictly within ones social class.
Now, Plinys mother has arranged his engagement to a woman he barely knows. Before the wedding, there's just time for one last adventure for Pliny and his beloved slave, Aurora. She has played Good Samaritan to a woman who claims to be searching for her missing husband. Thinking he can help, Pliny steps in, assisted as usual by his friend Tacitus. But the situation turns into a web of deception and intrigue when the trio discovers evidence of a horrific murder while searching in the countryside for clues to the whereabouts of the missing man. After Aurora is injured, Plinys involvement becomes personal. Hes even desperate enough to ask Regulus, his longtime sworn enemy, for help when the case brings him to the malevolent attention of the emperor Domitian.
As in the earlier books, a glossary of Roman terms and a list of both historic and fictional characters are included.
Albert A. Bell, Jr. is a college history professor and novelist living in Michigan. In addition to his Roman mysteries, Bell has written contemporary mysteries, middle-grade novels, and nonfiction. He maintains a website devoted to Pliny the Younger (www.pliny-mysteries.com), as well as his author website.