Falco returns home to Rome for his eleventh appearance in this highly popular and successful series. As a reward for his Census work Falco has at last been made an equestrian. But imperial favour coupled with his new duties as Procurator of the Sacred Poultry of the Senate and People of Rome bring their own complications. Not only is he now ensconsed in all the trappings of the Establishment and the state religion but Falco also has a troublesome new partner, Aelianus, to deal with. Private and public business merge as he is sent to investigate the disappearance of a young girl selected to be a Vestal Virgin. Closely watched by his ex-partner Petronius and the vigilies who are just waiting for him to slip up, Falco is sorely determined to solve this mystery.