In the year 45 BC, Julius Caesar is at the height of his power and the fortunes of the Fufidii and Scauri families are at a watershed.
Quintus Fufidius agrees against his wife's instincts to the marriage of their daughter to Lucius Scaurus. It is an alliance which could heal old feuds and possibly create a new dynasty. Unknown to Quintus, the Scauri clan have proposed the betrothal to prevent their family from bankruptcy. But before the wedding takes place one of the principals is murdered.
Suspects are few, but Roman society is shocked when Quintus' wife is accused, not only of murder, but also of incest. The trial of Helvia, in which she is defended by Cicero, is a courtroom battle on the grand scale and accompanied by the political shenanigans which result in Caesar's assassination.
Joan O'Hagan has written a brilliantly evocative novel and a unique whodunnit, subtly combining the elements of a contemporary mystery with the atmosphere and style of Ancient Rome.'Poison, poetry (both high-minded and salacious), marriage for money, marriage for love, gang-rape, cowardice in battle, scheming slaves, conniving aristocrats, malicious matrons casting magical curses, and (as if all this were not enough) a previously unknown oration by Cicero -- there's so much going on, so expertly conveyed ... ' Steven Saylor