Fresh from his trip to Britain, Marcus Didius Falco needs to re-establish his presence in Rome. A minor role in the trial of a senator entangles him in the machinations of Silius Italicus and Paccius Africanus two real-life lawyers at the top of their trade. These notorious ex-consuls play a dangerous game, where success brings rich pickings but a mistrial or a wrong verdict entails huge financial penalties. The senator is convicted but then dies, apparently by suicide. It may be a legal move to protect his heirs, but Silius hires Falco and his young associates to prove it was murder. As Falco shows off his own talents in the role of advocate, he exposes himself to powerful elements in Roman law: offending the wrong people may lead to charges he has not bargained for, in a contest that threatens financial ruin for himself and his family. . .