This is the first novel published in 1994 by Fred Vargas. A very popular and notorious mystery writer in the French world right now. I hadn't read any of her novels yet. At the height of the hype frenzy (2 years ago) we couldn't keep the books on the shelves. Now, things have quiet down a bit and I was able to get my hands on her first novel. This is a plot with lots and lots of red herrings and an ending that cheats a little. What's really good in this little mystery, chase, thriller set in Rome in mid summer? The characters. Three young men in their mid to late twenties all fascinated by the step mother of one of them. All three gave themselves nicknames. But not any nicknames. Roman Emperor names. So we have Claudius, Nero and Tiberius. All three mixed up in the death of Claudius' father murdered on the Farnese's plaza on a faithful Saturday night. Was it because he stumbled on to the ring of thieves that are smuggling precious drawings from the Vatican's library or is it something a little more personal. Interesting. The title refers to the words the gladiator said to the Emperor before they started to fight. Loosely translated : Those who are about to die salute you.