""...you have a fantastic treat in store.""
Flavia Albia, an investigator with a reputation for independence and efficiency, is left in Rome to look after the family construction business whilst her husband, Tiberius Manlius Faustus, is called away to look out for his sister and mother. This involves her supervising a project in the Grotto, an area of Rome known to be dangerous, especially to women. Her crew unearth a collection of tattered scrolls relating to old and obscure philosophers. Flavia, always with an eye open for a bargain, looks to find out more about them with an eye to selling them at her father's auction house.
Meanwhile a birthday party is arranged in the gardens around the Grotto for a wealthy businessman, complete with feasting and entertainment. After his wife disappears and is then found murdered, Flavia starts to investigate and discovers that there have been several unsolved murders and disappearances in the area. No-one has put much effort into the search for the perpetrator.
With her usual disregard for her own safety and her absolute determination not to take no for an answer, Flavia strides through Rome to find justice for the victims and retribution for the murderer.