He would rise up as savior of the State, but Decius Caecilius Metellus the Younger already has a lot on his mind. In the year of his aedileship, Decius is expected to stage elaborate and expensive games out of his own pocket. Along with his duties of pleasing the crowds with the feats of gladiators and wild beasts, are the more practical, and commonly neglected, ones of maintaining the city and its laws. It is these more mundane duties that call him to the scene of a recently built and more recently collapsed tenement building. Determined to punish the greedy parties who used cheap materials and caused the deaths of hundreds, Decius sets out to exact justice. It is easier said than done, especially when bodies and evidence go missing, and his family pressures him to cease the investigation. As he seeks out the politicians, philosophers, and tradesmen of the day, it becomes clear that the collapse of the building was deliberate, and Decius could be going after some of the most powerful men in Rome.
In this eighth installment of the series, Roberts once again provides authentic detail in the everyday Roman customs, as well as a fascinating picture of the growing unsteadiness of this famed Republic.