It's the end of a long summer, and everyone in Rome is talking about the deepening mystery of the young men who are turning up murdered in the catacombs, each shot through the heart with an archer's arrow reminiscent of the bible story of Saint Sebastian. When an English criminologist arrives to take up an appointment at Rome University, he is hoping to keep away from the coalface of crime, but the eternal city has other plans for him. He joins forces with a visiting Australian journalist. As they become intrigued by the strange events surrounding these crimes and the clues that the police seem reluctant to pursue, the trail leads them to issues and intrigues as dark and labyrinthine as the catacombs in which the crimes occur. As they are confronted with revelations about Vatican cover-ups, the Sicilian mafia, and the secretive Opus Dei organization they find their own lives threatened by the sinister force they are so close to uncovering. "Death in Rome" is also about family secrets, and how our buried pasts can reach forward to effect the present.
The story brings to life Rome's cobbled streets, ancient ruins and modern institutions, with much attention given to art, architecture and food, adding depth and texture to the story. Marc Sassella has written on travel and food for both "Gourmet Traveller" and "Vogue magazines". He holds dual Australian and Italian citizenship and travels regularly within Italy. He was born in Melbourne, Australia, and obtained a degree in psychology and philosophy from Melbourne University. He currently lives and writes in Sydney, Australia. This is the first story in his "Dr Death" series.