Graveyard of the Hesperides : A Flavia Albia NoveleBook - 2016
In first century Rome, Flavia Albia, the daughter of Marcus Didius Falco, has taken up her father's former profession as an informer. On a typical day, it's small cases---cheating spouses, employees dipping into the till---but this isn't a typical day. Her beloved, the plebeian Manlius Faustus, has recently moved in and decided that they should get married in a big, showy ceremony as part of beginning a proper domestic life together. Also, his contracting firm has been renovating a rundown dive bar called The Garden of the Hesperides, only to uncover human remains buried in the backyard. There have been rumors for years that the previous owner of the bar, now deceased, killed a bar maid and these are presumably her remains. In the choice between planning a wedding and looking into a crime from long ago, Albia would much rather investigate a possible murder. Or murders, as more and more remains are uncovered, revealing that something truly horrible has been going on at the Hesperides.
As she gets closer to the truth behind the bodies in the backyard, Albia's investigation has put her in the cross-hairs---which might be the only way she'll get out of the wedding and away from all her relatives who are desperate to 'help.'
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The whiffs of peculiar perfume were ripe. Flies were dropping dead all over the courtyard.
Rome was full of mosaics saying beware of the dog, with portraits of fierce curs in big spiked collars. Few houses actually had a guard dog, or if they owned one, he was gentler than his portrait. Of course we had the usual men who wanted to look tough, leading about horrible curs they could not properly handle – and also families with much-loved pets who wanted to greet strangers with ferocious licking.
he had just been sent home in disgrace after a foray into the Circus of Gaius and Nero while in the custody of his birth mother, a snake dancer. His visit had ended abruptly when he involved himself in the escape of a lion, a fire, an accidental death, financial strife and several divorces. He was a lonesome child, who liked adventures.
[The dogs] adored going on walks so they could look around, check out the neighbourhood and make as many friends as possible. We saw them even try to lick a potter’s raven though the bars of its cage. The bird told them to get lost. Well, it was ruder than that, but they wagged their long tails anyway.
It struck me nothing is a simple as it looks. I could easily dismiss the Ten Traders and White Chickens as filthy enclaves of vice: all drink, prostitution, extortion and slave-trading, alien to respectable people like me and Tiberius. Yet he and I had both done things we would never talk about at dinner parties.
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