In the late August of AD 79 the inhabitants of Pompeii and Herculaneum are going about their normal business in the late summer heat. Two of them have a room share arrangement: Nonius, scrounger, thief and failed pimp works by night and sleeps by day; Larius, the fresco painter with dreams of artistic greatness, does the opposite. When just after midday the summit of Vesuvius disappears in a vast volcanic ash cloud, their lives will change forever. While one sets about looting rapidly emptying homes the other desperately tries to save his family from destruction.
Lindsey Davis brings alive one the greatest catastrophes in human history in this gripping novella, poignantly evoking the struggle for life in the cities beneath the volcano.