""...a fast-paced denouement that grips the reader..."
Sara Farnese, an expert in early Christianity, is in the Vatican reading room during a searing heat wave, studying a 10th century copy of a Roman cookery book. Not her usual reading matter, but she wants to make an authentic Roman meal for her lover, Hugh Fairchild, who is arriving from London that day. But at that point a crazed professor bursts into the reading room and throws something on the desk before her. It is the skin of a human being - that self-same Hugh Fairchild. The professor is then shot dead by a member of the Swiss Guard.
This is the beginning of a spate of murders in Rome. Nic Costa, a young police detective, is brought in to investigate. Soon Rome is gripped by a series of murders, each death mimicking the death of a Christian martyr, and Nic, to begin with, appears out of his depth. Meanwhile, corrupt Cardinal Michael Denney, who lives in the Vatican, is discovering that the church is about to disown him. He is a womaniser and a manipulator of vast sums of illegal money, and he is on his way out.
Nic soon discovers that Sara is the key to the whole spate of murders, as she knew all the victims. Will she too become a victim?