Falco has just returned from Spain with Helena Justina and new baby in tow. During his welcome home party, Falco and his friend Petronius Longus sneak out for a drink beside a water fountain which typically isn’t working. When a city worker comes along to repair it it turns out that the source of the blockage was a human hand. After making a few enquiries it turns out that this has been a fairly regular occurrence, usually a hand or two turn up after a public festival. Anacrites is also back to full health and what’s more, he is in no mood to express gratitude by helping Falco. Instead he steals the case and when Falco and Petro fight back, Anacrites sends a group of thugs to beat them up.
When two more hands turn up, and all but one are identified as having belonged to missing prostitutes, it would appear that Falco has a serial killer on his hands and must stop him before he kills again. Whats more, several more women are reported missing, including one associated with Helena Justina’s family.
More excellent research here from Davis, this time about the Roman water supply in the first century. Not the most riveting of subjects but nonetheless, an interesting way to mix research and story-telling. This is the first serial killer that Falco has investigated ands the plot is fairly formulaic and will be familiar to the average crime-thriller fan.
I enjoyed this but it is not amongst my favourites. To be honest, there is nothing here that really helps this book in the series to stand out against the others.