Emperor Tiberius rules a Rome where patrician life is reaching its luxurious zenith. But after the Emperor’s nephew is violently murdered in the streets, the aristocratic lifestyle immediately becomes hazardous. The relentless partying of the wealthy is suddenly interrupted. Someone is targeting the nobles of Rome. The casualties begin to mount, and the perpetrators seem impossible to catch. The gossips dub them “The Palatine Bandits” and a true crime wave begins.
Pontious Pilate, the Emperor’s watchdog and newly commissioned commander of Rome’s Urban Cohorts, is called in to put a stop to this continuing crime wave, and he immediately puts the city on lockdown. With the city boiling over with stress, and the Palatine Bandits remaining at large, Pilate wants appointed the new government post – Prefect of Judea – as a reward for ending the crime wave.
But Lucius Quinteros, the richest man in Rome, also wants the Judean post, and sets off on his own to solve the mystery. Using his own private resources – including a championship, gladiatorial team – to help him probe the crimes, Lucius embarks on his own investigation. Lucius also initiates his bid for the Judean post using his own brand of politicking.
Meanwhile, the slums of Rome are teaming with millions of lost souls. Life there is a struggle just to survive, and even the basest essentials are doled out sparingly and used as weapons of manipulation. Thrust into this world is Darius, a youthful innocent who was raised from birth in a brothel. When Darius meets Poppaea, stunningly beautiful ward of Lucius Quinteros, she tries to convince him that their way to happiness is love. But is Poppaea’s love aiming too high for a boy from the ghetto, or will his own pride be his stumbling block?
Meet these, and many more characters in this fast-paced, tightly woven tale of 1st century Rome.