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Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Release Date: March 2004
ISBN: 034082736X
Format Reviewed: Hardback
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Genre:   Historical Crime [AD35, Rome]
Reviewed: 2004
Reviewer: Rachel A Hyde
Reviewer Notes:  

Parthian Shot
By David Wishart

      In 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.

      Otherwise 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.