Using scholarly historical insight and evocative storytelling that brings to life the glories of ancient Rome, Steven Saylor takes the reader from the bloody lines of clashing Roman armies to the backrooms of the Senate floor, where power-hungry politicians wrestle the Fates for control of Rome's destiny.
With the consular election drawing near, Rome is fiercely divided between the conservative Cicero and the tempestuous Catilina, whose followers are rumored to be plotting a bloodthirsty siege for power if their leader fails to win office.
Gordianus the Finder, retired to his Etruscan farm, is happy to be free of the intrigue and danger of the capital. But when his old friend Cicero enlists the Finder in an elaborate plot to control Catilina, Gordianus is drawn back into a familiar world. Now caught in a cloak-and-dagger political struggle for the fate of the Republic, Gordianus finds himself strangely drawn to the controversial candidate. Is Catilina really a subversive renegade, or are Cicero's suspicions part of an even greater conspiracy? When a headless corpse ominously appears on his farm, Gordianus knows he must unlock the secret of Catilina's riddle before Rome tears herself apart.
"Engrossing . . . Ironic and satisfying."—San Francisco Chronicle
"Saylor rivals Robert Graves in his knack for making the classical world come alive."—The Oregonian (Portland)
"Saylor's fashionably inconclusive reading of the conspiracy throws both antagonists, Cicero and Catilina, into bold relief. The result is a spacious, provocative portrait of a fictional detective confronted with a historical mystery finally beyond his powers."—Kirkus Reviews
"Saylor has written a sweeping and marvelously evocative story, with page after page of authentic detail and meticulous descriptions of the people, places, and politics of early Rome . . . There's no doubt that history buffs will savor the splendid historical detail."—Booklist
"Saylor carefully plots this novel and accurately depicts Roman society; his attentive study of Roman history and culture is evident throughout. The characters are believable and well delineated."—Library Journal
"Saylor has written another gripping and entertaining historical whodunit. Shrewdly depicting deadly political maneuverings, this addictive mystery also displays the author's firm grasp of history and human character."—Publishers Weekly