Hodder & Stoughton
Date: March 2004
it at Amazon
Historical Crime [AD35, Rome]
Rachel A Hyde
By David Wishart
his eighth case, wine-drinking purple-striped sleuth Marcus Corvinus
gets to put more than his toe into the murky waters of Eastern politics.
As if balancing the household accounts wasn’t bad enough,
he is interrupted one fine morning by top senator Lucius Vitellius.
Soon, Marcus is having to pose as a diplomat – not a job he
is suited for – and meets some high-ranking Parthians. He
also has the task of finding out who hired the thugs’ attack
on the Prince Phraates’s litter. As Perilla points out, it
worries her that there isn’t a body yet. Furthermore, what
does Prince Gaius have to do with it all, not to mention a whole
basket of lampreys?
One thing you are assured of in a
David Wishart novel is a humdinger of a plot, and this book certainly
has that in spades. As ever, this excellent feature is counter-balanced
by the jarring nature of Marcus’s modern and irreverent narrative
style. It tends to detract from the period feel of the book, though
it does make the book an easy read and that isn’t a bad thing.
When it gets truly complicated, we can see it all through the eyes
of another outsider.
this particular novel has more of a period ambience than some of
Wishart’s others, and the alien customs of the Parthians emphasize
that we are truly in the ancient world. I have found some of his
other books to be overlong, but this is a slick, fast-paced and
professional piece of work that ranks among his best efforts. He
is quick to deride his penchant for Byzantine plots in his Author’s
Note, but long may he grace the genre with such intricate tales.