Rome, 58 AD. Aemilius Valerius is back from the army. His father is dead, his sister is divorced, his mad uncle is obsessed with home renovations, and his new wife has a favour to ask – can her snarky adolescent Julia daughter come to stay?
Julia has stormed out of home because her father got her engaged, and she’s not happy about it. Neither is Valerius, because now she’s under his roof, and he has enough to worry about – unless he can get a job offer soon he’ll never have the political career expected of a man of his rank.
Sent by his wife to sound out the fiancé, Valerius accidentally lands a job. Albanus is murdered, and Valerius finds himself working with the investigator Atreus, a plebeian with a chip on his shoulder, to discover the killer. Mad Uncle Maro promised it would be a smart career move, but that was before a second senator turned up dead. Now everything points towards a corrupt legion, an imperial assassin, and the emperor Nero’s mother Agrippina. It might have been smarter to accept that honorary priesthood, stupid hat or not.
There are the added complications of an ex-brother-in-law who fell on his sword, a slum gangster who wants Atreus dead, political pressures, class divisions, and Valerius’ ongoing domestic hassles with his sister, wife, stepdaughter and assorted slaves.
Sub Rosa, a historical mystery, is complete at 129 000 words. It is my first novel. Thank you for your time and consideration.