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Last Rites

‘Right,’ I said. ‘So what can I do for the chief Vestal, pal?’
The Axeman was flexing his hands like he was squeezing a couple of those wooden balls wrestlers use to strengthen their grip. ‘I’m to take you to the Galba place,’ he said.
‘Is that so, now? And why would you do that?’
‘Because there’s been a death.’
I stared at him. Jupiter, not again! Five minutes back in residence at the Hub of the World and we were already hitting corpses. ‘Fine,’ I said. ‘You care to tell me whose?’
‘One of the Ladies.’
Shit. I sat back and heard Perilla draw in her breath. One of the Ladies, eh? For Torquata’s Axeman that could mean only one thing.
The dead woman was a Vestal.

It is the morning after the nocturnal rite of the Good Goddess, an all-female ceremony strictly out of bounds to the male of the species, and the body of a young woman has been found, her throat cut. Suicide or murder?

Hoping to avoid scandal, Senator Lucius Arruntius calls in Marcus Corvinus to do some discreet sleuthing. Marcus is helped in his investigations by a feisty flutegirl and by his clever, loyal wife Perilla (even though her attention is somewhat distracted by the acquisition of a revolutionary new clock). But – inevitably – to solve the mystery, Marcus must look beyond the obvious and first untangle a complex web of treachery and deceit.

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