*Starred Review* Tourists visiting the Roman baths in Bath, England, can see tiny clay tablets on display, tablets that carry curses ranging from trivial (May the one who stole my gloves in the baths last week get a rash) to homicidal. In this second in her Roman noir series (the first, Nox Dormienda, 2008, won the Bruce Alexander Award for best historical mystery), Stanley seizes on this curiosity and crafts an entire mystery around the murder of a man who inscribed curses for a living. Set in Brittania in the first century CE, during the reign of the emperor Domitian, the novel stars Arcturus, a Roman physician, and his wife (who gives considerable help to his solving mysteries). Here, Arcturus and wife Gwyna travel from Londinium to the spa town of Aquae Sulis (Bath) because Gwyna is suffering from an unknown ailment that has all the earmarks of contemporary depression. Arcturus himself is suffering from the guilt of not being able to save the young son of General Agricola. As soon as the two arrive, they see the spectacle of a body in the Sacred Spring—the body belongs to a curse maker. Besides writing an engrossing mystery, in which the first murder leads to a typically Roman orgy of revenge, Stanley serves up fascinating and never heavy-handed information on Roman life. For fans of Steven Saylor’s Roma Sub Rosa series. --Connie Fletcher
"Terrific noir. The flavor and setting shine, and Stanley has the knack for creating an atmosphere that feels as if she has transcribed actual historical events.... Stanley is definitely one to watch."
--RT Book Reviews
"Besides writing an engrossing mystery ... Stanley serves up fascinating and never heavy-handed information on Roman life."
--Booklist (Starred Review)
"Well-plotted ... all will wish this historical series a long life."
"Captures the details and rhythms of daily life in the ancient empire."
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.