First-century Rome is not the quiet, orderly city that it pretends to be, and in this environment, a very clever private informer can thrive. The daughter of Marcus Didius Falco, Flavia Albia is a chip off the old block. She's taken over her father's old profession, and, like him, she occasionally lets her love of a good puzzle get in the way of her common sense, but she always sees the case through.
The public gardens named after the Caesars is a place nice girls are warned away from and when a series of bodies are uncovered, it seems that a murderer has been haunting the grove for years. The case is assigned to one Julius Karus, a cohort of the Vigiles, but Albia is convinced that nothing will come of his efforts. Out of sympathy for the dead women and their grieving relatives, Albia decides to work with the vile Karus, and in this eighth case (following A Capitol Death), she will need all of her skills to bring the serial killer to justice.