1941: the height of the Luftwaffe’s ‘Blitz’on Kingston-upon-Hull and the biggest
mystery in Romano-British archaeology starts when mosaic floors from a Roman villa
are found in stone quarries near Brough-on-Humber. When archaeologists return to
Brantingham quarry in 1948, intending to recover them both, the first and largest
one (nearly 5 metres square) disappears overnight. Who took it no-one knows, but
even today the locals still blame the U.S.Air Force.....
In the devastated streets of a blitzed city ex-combat flyer Michael Tryton (now Detective
Inspector in the Hull City Murder Squad) is soon on the case of that American archaeologist,
Zuleika Macsen he first meets near the scene - but another love lies deeper, haunting
his every step.
Interleaved with Tryton’s enquiry is Flavius Candidus: military pensioner and expendable
civil servant. Arriving in AD 337 at Petuaria Civitas Parisorum (Brough) on a covert
mission to check out local loyalties, his plans soon change on meeting the ‘Tyche’-
spiritual emblem of the tribe and the wife of powerful villa-owner, Marcus Januarius.
Each man driven by duty, their careful investigations are derailed by fascinating
women and recurring events as two strong-minded servants of declining Empire confront
powerful vested interest in a climax all their undoing: “Even as Candidus spoke,
he knew what hypocrites they both were. They rode not to save an ala or an empire
but in a three-cornered fight over the one woman.”