‘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
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.