In the ancient world, the Romans were most like us. They longed for the good life, spent more than they earned, loved and hated a lot of the same things that we do. That makes writing Roman whodunits easy. What makes it difficult is the way in which our cultures differ. There was no police force, no forensic science, not even prisons as we know them. The Romans believed in gods, hundreds of them, and women were largely as unimportant as slaves. And slavery was a way of life – slaves outnumbered free men in Rome itself by four to one.
Then, there is Nero. The yardstick of morality in modern murder stories is that society does not condone it. Put simply, killing people is against the law. But in first century Rome, the emperor was the law and to Nero, murder was just part of policy; it was what you did if somebody annoyed you.
So, motivation for murder is the same, but different. Life is cheaper than it is today, cruelty endemic. What we have tried to do in this second book (The Year of the Snake being the first) is to recreate the sights, the sounds, the smell of Rome in one of the most turbulent periods in its history.
Did Nero actually fiddle while Rome burned? You’ll have to read the book to find out.
Get your copy of The Year of the Flame HERE!