Naples, 1913. Sun-baked, blue-skied, and with its amazing bay, one of the most beautiful spots in Italy - but also, one of the most backward. Into that world is sent a minor British consular official, Scampion, banished from Florence because he has allowed himself to be caught up in the mad social whirl surrounding D'Annunzio, the famous Italian poet, Nationalist and revolutionary.
Scampion brings with him from Florence the new craze that is sweeping Italy: bicycling. And one day as he walks home after a road race that he has been organising, he is stabbed to death.
Nothing extraordinary about that in Naples - it happens all the time - but his wallet was not taken, a fact that is remarkable. Could Scampion's murder have something to do with the racing? Bicycling may seem like a harmless pursuit but in Italy passions run high and Neopolitans, too, are great gamblers; they gamble on anything, including bicycle races. And where there is gambling, in Naples there is usually the Camorra, the powerful Neopolitan secret society.
But then the Foreign Office receives a tip off that the murder may be more complicated. It might be linked to high politics in Rome. And that's when Seymour, the foreigner from the F.O., is sent south to investigate . . .
Praise for Michael Pearce's A Dead Man in . . . series
'The steady pace, atmospheric design, and detailed description re-create a complicated city. A recommended historical series' Library Journal
'Sheer fun' The Times
'His sympathetic portrayal of an unfamiliar culture, impeccable historical detail and entertaining dialogue make enjoyable reading' Sunday Telegraph