The author of Fatherland, Enigma and The Ghost takes us to August, 79 AD, and the soon-to-be-obliterated city of Pompeii. Young water engineer Marcus Attilius Primus, fresh from Rome, goes up against entrenched interests to fix the broken aqueduct on which the entire region relies. As he traces the problems to the source, he realizes what's about to happen. Knowing the ending doesn't keep this book from being enthralling. What's just as fascinating is that Vesuvius, today crouching over millions of inhabitants of Naples, is building up another head of steam and the only evacuation plan seems to be along the lines of "kiss your butt goodbye". Will today's Neapolitans be any luckier than those millennia ago? This is an 4+, and a compelling, very human, read.
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