in AD79, Harris' novel covers four days in the life of the engineer
Marius Attilius Primus. Newly appointed as chief of the Aqua Augusta,
the aqueduct that carries water to two hundred and fifty thousand
people, he investigates a drastic drop in the strength of the water
supply and the mysterious disappearance of his predecessor.
reviewer Gavin Bradbury
promises Pliny, the commander of the navy, that he will repair the
aqueduct before the water supply runs out. The problem is near Vesuvius,
so with a small team of men he sets out. Once there human greed
is as big an obstacle as the increasing dangerous mountain.
and his team battle to repair the aqueduct in treacherous conditions.
after completing the repairs Vesuvius erupts and Attilius must decide
whether to escape or attempt to save the woman he loves.
book is a masterpiece of research and gives a vivid account of the
sights and sounds of the first century around the Bay of Naples.
Harris' characters are less well
defined; character development always second to plot development.
The love story that helps to define the end of the book is the least
convincing aspect by far of the novel; it was difficult to care
whether the hero would find his love or not.
book therefore, but one which is more
satisfying in the reading than in the remembering.
is out in hardback now.