Lumbered with working alongside reptilian Chief Spy Anacrites, Falco has hit upon the perfect plan - offering his services as a tax collector with draconian powers to Vespasian and Titus in conducting the 'great Census' of AD73. If he does well, his fee will finally allow him to join the middle ranks and wed long-suffering companion Helena Justina. Meanwhile, smoothie landlord Smaractus is suspiciously trying to impress him and, on the domestic front, Falco is needed to trace a relative who has eloped and has a crazy plan for finding an extinct herb. Distracted by the apparent murder of a star man-eating lion, Falco uncovers a bitter rivalry between the gladiators' trainers. When one also ends up dead Falco is forced to investigate. The trail leads to Africa, with Helena Justina and little Julia in tow. . .
Lindsey Davis's first Falco novel, The Silver Pigs, was published in 1989. Since then, her novel Two For the Lions won the inaugural Ellis Peters Historical Dagger in 1998, and in 1999 she received the Sherlock Award for Best Comic Detective for her creation, Marcus Didius Falco. Lindsey's last ten novels have all been Sunday Times hardback bestsellers. She was born in Birmingham but now lives in Greenwich.