Three Hands in the Fountain

Safely back in Rome with Helena and the new baby, a girl tactfully called Julia Junilla Laeitana (after both grandmothers), Falco is enjoying a quiet drink with his troubled friend Petro, when they discover something gruesome in the fountain they are standing by – a severed human hand!!! With the possibility of many more severed remains floating around the Roman aqueduct system, Falco decides it is time to get involved (he just knew he would!). This time, Falco has a partner in his business, Petro, who has been suspended from the Vigiles due to an unfortunate liaison. As Falco & Partner begin their investigation (slowly), they come across opposition from unhelpful water board officials with vested interests in keeping the whole thing quiet. Just as Falco is about to give up, Julius Frontinus, the ex-Consul (and a real person!) who Vespasian has assigned to look into the matter, asks for Falco’s help and is willing to pay. With Frontinus able to pull-rank on unhelpful people, the investigation continues more smoothly. The trail leads them down into the Cloaca Maxima (urk!) and out of Rome to the Campagna. After spending a few nights watching the streets to make sure the serial killer does not strike again, Falco reaches a dead end. However, when another girl goes missing, Falco does realise who the killer is, and it is then a frantic cat and mouse game to catch him.

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