Saturnalia is almost over, but drunks and gamblers aren’t the only denizens of Londinium knocking on the doctor’s door. The winter of 836 a.u.c. (83 A.D.) is cold and bitter. The year’s final exhale will prove to be colder still.
Arcturus—the half-native, half-Roman doctor and occasional problem-solver—has seen much in his thirty-three years. He’s risen—despite not playing the politics game. He is Agricola’s doctor. And Agricola’s friend. And Agricola is the governor of Britannia.
Now, on a frozen December afternoon, he learns the governor is in trouble. The Emperor Domitian has sent a spy to Britannia—a spy carrying papers demanding Agricola’s resignation. It doesn’t make Arcturus any warmer to know that the spy, a Syrian named Vibius Maecenas, is betrothed to the woman who brings him the story. The woman—Gwyna—is as unforgettable as her information.
When Arcturus sends his freedman Bilicho to follow her, he finds himself, hours later, in an underground temple, staring at a shapeless hulk on top the altar. It’s the trussed, dead body of Maecenas, with a gaping hole in place of a throat.
If Arcturus doesn’t find out who murdered him and why, Domitian might think the governor is responsible. The fat, dead Syrian will ignite a civil war, one hot enough to thaw the ice in frozen Britannia.
He has seven days to unravel fact from story, truth from rumor, and motive from murder. He must walk a carnival landscape of fear and uncertainty, strewn with sadistic pimps, drunken whores, well-bred politicians and four more deaths. He’s unsure of everything: how much he can trust Gwyna, how much he can trust the governor, and especially how much he can trust himself.
NOX DORMIENDA is a nightmare vision of Roman Britain, a lighting-paced historical mystery that blends hard-boiled prose and impeccably researched historical background. Compelling, immediate and classic private-eye storytelling, the book will sting your senses into a visceral past: you’ll hear the crunch of ice on a muddy Roman road, smell the stench of a cheap whorehouse, and down a tired swallow of sun-warmed wine. It is the first novel of a new series and a new genre of mystery fiction: it is Roman Noir.