Two For The Lions

The year is AD 73 and Vespasian decides to hold the “great Census” in order to tax the populace. Falco & Partner become Censors, whose job it is to investigate fraudulent claims (which promises to be lucrative too). Unfortunately for Falco, his partner is none other than that slimy palace spy, Anacrites! While investigating fraud among the people who run the gladiator schools and wild beast shows, Falco comes across a dead lion, an “escaped” leopardess, a dead ostrich and a dead Gladiator (well, dead where he shouldn’t be dead, that is!). This is a cut-throat world of sabotage and counter-sabotage, rivalry, “misappropriation of funds”, “misrepresentation of assets” and swindling the state. There is also a trip to north Africa to search for Camillus Justinus and Claudia (the eloping renegades!) and an extinct delicacy, the herb silphium. With a final show-down in the gladiator’s arena, this novel is probably the one with the highest body count.

This is the novel where we briefly see Antonia Caenis, Vespasian’s long-term mistress.

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