It's Christmas and a serial killer is leaving displayed body parts all over Cumbria. A strange message is left at each scene: #BSC6 Called in to investigate, the National Crime Agency's Washington Poe and Tilly Bradshaw are faced with a case that makes no sense. Why were some victims anaesthetized, while others died in appalling agony? Why is their only suspect denying what they can irrefutably prove but admitting to things they weren't even aware of? And why did the victims all take the same two weeks off work three years earlier? And when a disgraced FBI agent gets in touch things take an even darker turn.
Flavius Valerius Paulus, a promising young lawyer, is the son of a rich Roman wine trader. Impressing the emperor Hadrian he is posted, accompanied by his wife Lucilla, as civilian commandant to Fort Alauna on the far north-western frontier of the empire. He struggles, wisely and usually successfully, with many day to day problems both personal and military.