Flavia Albia is a private investigator, always drawn to an intriguing puzzle - even if it is put to her by her new husband's hostile ex-wife. On the Quirinal Hill, Clodia Volumnia, a very young girl with stars in her eyes, has died, amid suggestions that she was poisoned by a love-potion. It will have been supplied by a local witch, who goes by the name of Pandora, though Albia learns that Pandora carries on a trade in herbal beauty products while hiding much more dangerous connections. Pandora's beloved grandson, a trainee hack lawyer, is one of the dead girl's empty-headed friends; can this be relevant? As she homes in on the truth, Albia has to contend with the occult, organised crime, an unusual fertility symbol, and celebrity dining. She discovers the young girl was a handful; her father mediates in disputes, yet has divorced his grief-stricken wife and is now suing his own mother-in-law; Clodia's so-called friends were none too friendly. The supposedly sweet air of the Quirinal hides the smells of loose morality, casual betrayal and even gangland conflict. When a friend of her own is murdered, Albia determines to expose as much of this local sickness as she can - beginning with the truth about the death of little Clodia.