Book 11 in the Marcus Didius Falco series (1999)
Marcus Didius Falco, the cynical, hard-boiled investigator from the rough end of Rome, is back from a difficult mission in North Africa. As a result of his hard work, Emperor Vespasian awards Falco with the title of Procurator of Poultry for the Senate & People of Rome, or keeper of the city’s sacred geese. Not much of a salary, of course, but the title does give him a better standing with his in-laws.
A frightened child approaches Roman informer Marcus Didius Falco, pleading for help. Nobody believes Gaia’s story that a relation wants to kill her – and neither does he.
Beset by his own family troubles, by his new responsibilities as Procurator of the Sacred Poultry, and by the continuing search for a new partner, he turns her away. Immediately he regrets it. Gaia has been selected as the new Vestal Virgin, and when she disappears Falco is officially asked to investigate.
Finding Gaia is then a race against time, ending in Falco’s most terrifying exploit yet…