A Marcus Didius Falco mystery.
AD 72: Marcus Didius Falco leaves Rome on his most dangerous mission yet.
A commission to find a missing water organ player and an Imperial order to spy out the Lands of the East send Falco and his aristocratic girlfriend, Helena Justina, across the sea to Petra.
But the rose-red city turns out not to be so rosy after the couple discover a murdered Roman playwright and they flee with the man's erstwhile employers, a group of travelling actors.
Falco, naturally, feels obliged not only to take up his stylus to fill the dead man's role in the company, but also to investigate the murder. Soon another murder, several accidents and the dangers of the desert are making him wish he's stayed at home.