The fountain was not working. Nothing unusual in that...' Marcus Didius Falco and his laddish friend Petronius find their local fountain has been blocked- by a gruesomely severed human hand. Soon other body parts are being found in the aqueducts and sewers. Public panic overcomes official indifference, and the Aventine partners are commissioned to investigate. Women are bing abducted during festivals, with the next Games only days away. As the heat rises in the Circus Maximus, they face a race agaisnt time and a strong test of their friendship. They know the sadistic killer lurks somewhere on the festive streets of Rome- perparing to strike again.